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$50 million in grant funding available to help students gain internet access

8/10/2020

On July 28, 2020, Lt. Governor Jon Husted shared the state’s plan to expand broadband services in Ohio. The lieutenant governor announced the state will set aside $50 million of funding through the federal CARES Act to provide hotspots and internet-enabled devices to students.
 
The Ohio Department of Education, in collaboration with BroadbandOhio, will provide Ohio schools with the opportunity to apply for these funds through a grant application process. Invitations to apply will be sent to all Ohio public and nonpublic school entities on Aug. 10, 2020. The grant application portal will open Monday, Aug. 10 and close at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21. Grants will be reviewed and processed during the week of Aug. 24 and awardees will be notified the week of Aug. 31.
 
The district must identify the eligible group of students it intends to assist with the purchase of the technology. Those groups include:

  • Economically disadvantaged students, as defined for EMIS reporting, including students on free or reduced lunch;
  • Vulnerable children and youth as defined by the Ohio Department of Education;
  • Students who might have chronic conditions; and
  • Students who do not have other access to the internet.

Eligible expenses include devices and services that provide internet connectivity such as:

  • Home internet paid for by the district for students;
  • Hotspot/MiFi with a service plan;
  • Mobile hotspots (including on buses);
  • Public Wi-Fi infrastructure; and
  • Other technology that provides a connection for the student.

Ineligible expenses include:

  • Laptops and Chromebooks that cannot access the internet without purchasing other equipment;
  • Hardware that does not contribute toward an internet connection;
  • Devices that do not primarily allow a child to have access to the internet; and
  • Cellphones unless repurposed to only function as a hotspot.
The BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant is linked to RemotEDx, a new $15 million suite of remote education supports for schools funded by the Ohio Department of Education CARES Act state activity funds. A component of RemotEDx includes the deployment of Connectivity Champions, who are singularly focused on helping schools remove barriers to internet connectivity and coordinate connections to state-level resources. Connectivity Champions will be deployed through Information Technology Centers, in partnership with the Management Council and Ohio Department of Education. 
 
Questions about the grant can be sent to crfconnect@education.ohio.gov.