download (1)The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting applications for the Community Connect grant program.  Community Connect is designed to fund broadband deployments for rural communities that are unable to attract private investment due to their unique circumstances.

Eligible applicants for the Community Connect grant include state and local governments, federally recognized tribes, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit entities.  The grant program, run by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), is accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2017 through March 13, 2017.

To be considered applicants for the Community Connect program must request service for an eligible area.  An eligible area is a community lacking existing broadband speeds of at least 4 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload.  Applicants must also provide at least 15% matching funds from non-federal sources.

Funds can be used for the following purposes:

  • The construction, acquisition, or leasing of facilities, spectrum, land or buildings used to deploy broadband service for: (1) all residential and business customers located within the Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA); and (2) 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.

See the Community Connect Fact sheet here:

https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/fact-sheet/RD-FactSheet-RUS-CommunityConnect.pdf

See the Community Connect webinar slides here:

https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/CC_Presentation_2017_Final.pdf

The next webinar will take place January 24th, 2017 at 11:00 AM.