August 25, 2021

Van Hollen, Markey, Meng Highlight More Than $5.1 Billion in Requests for Emergency Connectivity Funds for Schools and Libraries

Funds stem from the more than $7 billion the lawmakers secured in the American Rescue Plan to connect students to the internet

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06) released the following statement today after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the initial demand numbers from the first round of applications for the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a program the lawmakers fought to pass in the American Rescue Plan. This fund provides $7.17 billion to allow elementary and secondary schools and libraries – including tribal schools and libraries – to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, including internet service through such equipment, to students, staff, and patrons. Schools and libraries across the country have requested over $5.1 billion from the program, including over $53 million by entities in Maryland.

“Today’s announcement by the FCC underscores how our Emergency Connectivity Fund is addressing an urgent need across the country: closing the homework gap. With $5.1 billion already being requested by schools and libraries through this program, vital resources will soon be deployed to provide the connectivity and devices students need to succeed in their 21st century education. But this substantial demand also highlights the absolute necessity of passing our SUCCESS Act and providing additional funding in Congress’s upcoming reconciliation package to continue our efforts,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement. “We cannot allow students connected by the Emergency Connectivity Fund to lose their new access when the program’s original funds run dry, and we must continue to close the homework gap even after the pandemic ends. We applaud Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel and the FCC for their administration of this critical program, and we urge our colleagues in Congress to build on this progress moving forward. We must ensure that the homework gap does not become an even larger learning and opportunity gap for our most vulnerable children.”

 In July, Senator Van Hollen, Senator Markey, and Congresswoman Meng– along with 15 additional senators and 25 House members – introduced the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act to build on the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion a year over five years – for a total of $40 billion – to continue to connect students to the internet following the coronavirus pandemic.