Community Connect: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If your question is not listed below, please email ALA's Public Programs Office.

What is Community Connect and what are the project goals?

In partnership with Capital One, the ALA Public Programs Office is seeking applicants to participate in Community Connect. This program will provide 20 rural* public libraries (or libraries that serve as a community’s public library) with a resource package to support digital access and financial capability during a two-year library program implementation period.

The goals of this initiative are to:

  1. Expand service capacity of rural libraries by offering hotspot lending policies and financial capability seminars
  2. Improve the digital access of rural library patrons via hotspots and enhance opportunities for social mobility by pursuing remote education, economic inclusion, financial management and health
  3.  Demonstrate the efficacy of the pilot program and use results to build consensus on how to address sustainable digital inclusion for rural communities

*The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defines a rural community as one that is more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area and a small community to be libraries with a legal service area population of 25,000 or less.

What benefits will participating libraries receive?

  • Five Verizon Wi-Fi hotspots with two-year contracts and service for lending to patrons.
  • Professional development resources including Ready, Set, Bank, a turnkey curriculum that uses a series of micro learning videos to teach community members about online banking, money management and online security; assets and resources on hotspot-lending best practices produced by the Public Library Association (PLA); and additional financial capability resources from ALA. These materials will be presented in two recorded training webinars for library staff to watch when schedules allow.
    • The first webinar will include how to set up the hotspots and add them to circulation; troubleshooting; setting up a library policy for lending them; project evaluation and patron surveys; and a general overview of all the resources available to selected libraries to support programming.
    • The second webinar will focus on how to use the Ready, Set, Bank resources, including content on Digital Basics and Money Management, the online courses for the public and how to use the Ready, Set Bank toolkits to implement a four-part workshop series at the library or virtually, if needed.
  • Curated book lists of financial capability titles featured in ALA’s Financial Capability LibGuide, other ALA resources to support library programming needs and the full suite of Ready, Set, Bank workshop materials.
  • A copy of ALA Editions’ Rainy Day Ready: Programs and Tools for Developing Financial Capability.
  • $2,000 stipend to cover costs associated with implementing the required workshops, such as hiring a workshop facilitator, providing refreshments or purchasing books recommended in the LibGuide.
  • Access to a listserv for participating library staff to ask questions, share expertise, offer advice and engage in peer sharing and learning.

What are the requirements for participating libraries?

All selected public libraries are required to do the following:

  • Sign a contract with ALA agreeing to programming, publicity, evaluation, reporting and other project requirements.
  • Participate in both training webinars.
  • Create and implement a hotspot lending policy, if one is not already in place.
  • Lend hotspots to patrons, per the lending policy, for two years.
  • Present a minimum of four public Ready, Set, Bank workshops for library patrons open to young adults through seniors, on topics such as the benefits of online banking, online banking safety and security, or getting started with online banking. Libraries can use the programming stipend to hire a local facilitator such as a high school teacher, community college instructor or other noncommercial expert to lead the workshop series. To ensure that all programming is strictly noncommercial, the public programs may not be offered in conjunction with financial services firms, including banks, investment advisers and brokerage firms.
  • Promote the programs in the community.
  • Allow the public to attend programs free of charge.
  • Create a display on financial capability featuring books and other financial capability resources from the FDIC, IRS, FTC and CFPB, and non-branded Ready, Set, Bank resources. Libraries can use some of the programming stipend to cover costs of adding new titles from ALA’s LibGuide to their collection.
  • Participate in reporting and evaluation.
  • Appoint one staff member as the Project Director. The Project Director is responsible for participating in trainings, overseeing programming and promotions.
  • Agree to all publicity requirements, including use of designated exhibition credits and/or logos on all local publicity materials, both print and online.

What libraries are eligible?

Community Connect is available to rural public libraries in the United States. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defines a rural community as one that is more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area and a small community to be libraries with a legal service area population of 25,000 or less. Individuals and federal entities are not eligible to apply.

I work at a library branch that is part of a larger library system. Is my library still eligible?

Yes. If the population that the branch library individually serves meets the grant qualifications, the branch library is eligible to apply for this opportunity. Your application should focus on the community your branch library serves, rather than the community the library system serves as a whole.

Can more than one branch of my library system apply?

While not recommended, more than one branch of a library system may apply for the award. However, it should be noted that the branches will be competing directly with one another for the award, as geographical location is taken into consideration. 

Is Verizon the only broadband provider? Could I use a different provider?

Verizon is the only broadband provider with Community Connect, therefore access to Verizon coverage in your area is needed for participation. Roaming Verizon service coverage should not present an issue for participation. 

Why do I get a notification that my email/password is incorrect when I try to apply using my ALA member login information?

Our application for grant opportunities is now conducted through our new grant system, Foundant. You will need a Foundant account (registration is free) to access the application for all ALA Public Programs Office grant opportunities. This account is separate from an ALA membership.

When you are taken to the application page, click “Create Account” under the login information prompt, and you’ll be taken to the Foundant Account Creation page. Registration in Foundant calls for information about yourself, your institution, and your executive officer. Once you have completed registration and created your account (which takes about 5 minutes) you will be taken to our grants application page where you can click the "Apply" button for this opportunity.

You do not need to be an ALA member to apply. 

When will award information be released?

Application Deadline: August 26, 2020

Award Notification: September 30, 2020

How do I apply?

To apply to be a participating library in Community Connect, please fill out the full grant application here.

What will make a successful applicant?

Successful applicants will meet basic eligibility requirements, submit a complete application and also demonstrate that their library has the capacity and ability to:

  • Demonstrate need for a program of this nature in their community, expand and their library’s service capacity and improve digital access for their community. • Involve appropriate programming partners.
  • Carry out a successful series of programs and hotspot lending.
  • Promote the program and hotspot lending program to engage the target audiences.
  • Participate in program evaluation.

Other considerations, such as geography and demographics, will play a role in final library selections.

Whom do I contact with further questions?

If you have questions about the exhibition or the application, contact:

American Library Association Public Programs Office

1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045