USDA: Grants to Connect Rural Communities to Broadband Service
USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator Jonathan Adelstein recently announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to provide broadband access in rural communities currently without broadband service. Joining him to make the announcement was Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). All applications must be submitted to RUS by May 3, 2011.
Rural areas continue to have fewer residents online than our urban counterparts, many times because access is not available. This grant program aims to offer broadband connectivity to areas with no service.
According to the USDA press release, The Community Connect Grant program funds grants to “communities in the most rural, economically challenged areas where loans would not be sustainable. Funds may be used to construct, acquire or lease facilities to deploy broadband to residents, businesses and essential community facilities such as police and fire stations, libraries, schools, and health care clinics.
“Eligible entities are incorporated organizations, Tribes and tribal organizations, state and local government bodies, for-profit or non-profit cooperatives, private corporations and limited liability corporations. Individuals are not eligible to apply. Grants range from $50,000 to $1.5 million. While grants cannot be renewed, applications to extend existing projects are welcome. Each project requires matching contributions, must serve a rural area where broadband service does not exist, must provide services to critical communities free of charge for two years, and must offer basic service to all premises within the proposed service area.
More information on Community Connect Grants, including the application guide, can be viewed and downloaded from the USDA Rural Development website. Information on available funding and application requirements are published on page 12017 of the March 4, 2011 Federal Register. To learn more, you may also read award summaries from past years on the USDA-RD website.