USDA Grant to Provide Broadband in Rural Areas

September 24, 2020

Today the US Department of Agriculture announced it is accepting applications for the ‘Community Connect Grant’ to provide broadband service in unserved rural areas.   Applications are due December 23, 2020, 11:59 p.m. EST.  Complete details can be found at:

What does this program do?

The Community Connect provides financial assistance to eligible applicants that will provide broadband service in rural, economically-challenged communities where service does not exist.

Who may apply?

Eligible applicants include:

• Incorporated organizations

• Federally-recognized Tribes

• State and local units of government

• Any other legal entity, including cooperatives, private corporations, or limited liability companies organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis

What is an eligible area?

Rural areas that lack any existing broadband speed of at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream are eligible.  The Application Guide provides guidance on rural areas currently eligible for Community Connect Grants.

How may the funds be used?

• The construction, acquisition, or leasing of facilities, spectrum, land or buildings used to deploy broadband service for:

o All residential and business customers located within the Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA)

o All participating critical community facilities (such as public schools, fire stations, and public libraries)

• The cost of providing broadband service free of charge to the critical community facilities for 2 years.

• Less than 10% of the grant amount or up to $150,000 may be used for the improvement, expansion, construction or acquisition of a community center that provides online access to the public.

Are there other grant requirements?

• Buildings constructed with grant funds must be located on property owned by the awardee

• Leasing expenses will only be covered through the advance of funds period included in the award documents

• Grantees must have legal authority to provide, construct, operate and maintain the proposed facilities or services

• Partnerships with other federal, state, local, private and non-profit entities are encouraged

• For additional detail see Code of Federal Regulations

Are there any other grant requirements?

Matching funds of at least 15% from non-federal sources are required and can be used for operating costs.

Who can answer questions about this program?

Please submit questions online at–45.

Julie Tritt Schell

Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o

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