Emergency Connectivity Fund $7 billion application window opens
For Immediate Release
Assistant Director, Communications
ALA Public Policy & Advocacy Office
ALA encourages library participation, reiterates FCC policy concerns
WASHINGTON – ALA encourages public and tribal libraries to apply for funding to provide broadband internet connectivity and devices (e.g., hotspots, tablets) for library patrons otherwise lacking access to the internet. Equipment purchased with ECF funding is eligible for 100 percent reimbursement. The application window for the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) opened June 29 and will stay open until August 13.
“Nearly a third of public libraries already loan some kind of connected device, so the ECF will enable more libraries to offer connectivity and equipment,” said Senior Policy Advocate Marijke Visser.
ALA led library advocacy efforts for emergency funds as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes the ECF and other library-eligible funding opportunities.
“We know the need in communities is enormous right now, and we want libraries to know that they are not alone. ARPA and ECF can work in tandem to meet community needs, and ALA is here to help librarians tap into these federal resources.”
To assist libraries in navigating program challenges and leveraging program funds, ALA launched a website with resources and an ECF toolkit, including:
- ALA Summary of FCC's Emergency Connectivity Fund Order
- Preparing to Apply for the ECF Program
- ALA Sample Acceptable Use Policy and Patron Certification
- ALA Summary on CIPA Compliance and the ECF
- Hotspots on the Road with Library Vehicles
Throughout the three-month program design process, ALA pushed for the FCC to develop ECF program rules in a way that protects library patron privacy and minimizes barriers to library participation. Most recently, ALA sent a letter to the FCC related to patron data collection and retention requirements, requesting processes that would mitigate the burden of administering the ECF “by providing clear guidance and flexibility for applicants while addressing program compliance.”
“Though the program rules are not perfect, ALA has made libraries’ concerns about the ECF clear to the FCC," said Visser. "We believe the FCC is listening to us and is seeking possible ways to add some flexibility for libraries in the data collection process. The Commission will continue to update its FAQ and we are working with the Universal Services Administration Company (USAC) to create additional outreach resources for libraries.
“At the national level, ALA will continue advocating for the provisions of deep concern to libraries. We hope that libraries will work closely with their state E-rate coordinators to apply for the program and leverage this opportunity to maximize impact on their communities.”