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USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Increase Access to Broadband in Unserved Rural Areas

Erin McDuff
Release Date

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is accepting applications for grants to establish broadband infrastructure in unserved rural communities.

The Community Connect Program helps rural communities extend access where broadband service is least likely to be commercially available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for people and businesses. The projects funded by these grants help rural residents tap into the enormous potential of the internet for jobs, education, healthcare, public safety, and community development.

State and local governments, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, and for-profit corporations are eligible to apply. Grants awarded through this program must be used to provide broadband service at a minimum rate-of-data transmission of 25 megabits downstream and 3 megabits upstream, which is the speed benchmark for broadband connectivity adopted by the Federal Communications Commission. Awardees must also use their USDA funding to offer free broadband service to all critical community facilities and a community center in their proposed service area for two years.

The minimum grant amount is $100,000 while the maximum amount is $3 million. Applicants must be able to provide a 15 percent match on the desired grant amount. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Prior Community Connect grants cannot be renewed. However, existing Community Connect awardees may submit applications for new projects. Only one application per applicant is eligible for approval.

The deadline to apply is April 15, 2019. For additional information about the current application window, see the Funding Opportunity Announcement. Applicants are also encouraged to review the Community Connect Grant Program Application Guide for Fiscal Year 2019 for details on how to complete a successful application.

Questions related to USDA's telecommunications programs in Oregon may be directed to Joe Bradley, General Field Representative, (208) 401-8090.