What does this program do?
The Community Connect provides financial assistance to eligible applicants that will provide broadband service in rural, economically-challenged communities where service does not exist.
Who may apply?
Eligible applicants include:
- Incorporated organizations
- Federally-recognized Tribes
- State and local units of government
- Any other legal entity, including cooperatives, private corporations, or limited liability companies organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis
What is an eligible area?
Rural areas that lack any existing broadband speed of at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream are eligible.
- The Application Guide provides guidance on rural areas currently eligible for Community Connect Grants.
The Rural Utilities Service publishes all Community Connect Proposed Funded Service Areas (PFSAs) through its Public Notice Filing (PNF) process. Incumbent service providers may challenge the eligibility of a PFSA by filing a Public Notice Response (PNR). More information on the PNF/PNR process can be found by visiting the Rural Development Public Notice Filings Portal User Guide. For a demonstration on how to search for PNFs, submit a PNR, subscribe to PNF notifications, and more, watch the PNF Demonstration of the Public Filing Tool video. Those interested in receiving email notifications whenever a new application has been submitted and the PNF has been published can do so by signing up for our Public Notice Filing Subscription Service.
How may the funds be used?
- The construction, acquisition, or leasing of facilities, spectrum, land or buildings used to deploy broadband service for:
- All residential and business customers located within the Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA)
- 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.
Are there other grant requirements?
- Buildings constructed with grant funds must be located on property owned by the awardee
- Leasing expenses will only be covered through the advance of funds period included in the award documents
- Grantees must have legal authority to provide, construct, operate and maintain the proposed facilities or services
- Partnerships with other federal, state, local, private and non-profit entities are encouraged
- For additional detail see Code of Federal Regulations 7 CFR, Part 1739
Are there any other grant requirements?
- Matching funds of at least 15% from non-federal sources are required and can be used for operating costs
Who can answer questions about this program?
For questions about the Community Connect Grant Program, please email Community Connect or call the Loan Origination and Approval Division at (202) 720-0800.
You may also contact one of our General Field Representatives (GFR). To find a GFR, visit our GFR contact map at https://rd.usda.gov/contact-us/telecom-gfr.
What governs this program?
Why does USDA Rural Development do this?
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.
Preliminary Actions Required
To complete an application for this program, you must be pre-registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) and also have a Unique Entity ID (UEI) number. Neither of these applications cost money, but they can take time so be sure to get this taken care of immediately. If you are already registered with these systems, you do not need to register again.
- Community Connect Program Map
- ARR Resolution Instructions and Samples
- SF 424 (pdf)
- Community Connect Application Checklist
- Community Connect Application Guide
- Schedule H-1 | Pro Forma 5-Year Financial Forecast Single Application
- Schedule F1 & F2
- Community Connect Grant Program Standard Grant Agreement (pdf)
- Community Connect Portal User Guide
- Telecommunications Program Funded Service Areas Map
- Additional information about submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is available on the USDA FOIA website at: http://www.dm.usda.gov/foia.htm
- Corporations that have been convicted of a felony (or had an officer or agent acting on behalf of the corporation convicted of a felony) within the past 24 months are not eligible. Any Corporation that has any unpaid federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, is not eligible for financial assistance provided with funds appropriated by the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012, P.L. No. 112-55.
- All applicants must have a Unique Entity ID number if your organization doesn’t already have one. Any organization that applies for a Community Connect Broadband grant must provide their Unique Entity ID number on the SF-424, "Application for Federal Assistance." UEI numbers are available without charge. See UEI Q&A.
- Applicants wishing to apply for a Community Connect broadband grant online can do so at https://rus-apply.rd.usda.gov. Your organization must have a DUNS number and complete the SAM registration process before submitting an application online.
- If a Community Connect awardee has received either a ReConnect award, a Broadband Initiatives Program award, or Rural Broadband Program award, the awardee will also file all required reports in the Reporting and Compliance system.
Financial and Operating Report filings for this Program must be completed online using Telecom’s Reporting & Compliance System. Please consult the Rural Development Reporting & Compliance User Guide for information on how to use the system.
Community Connect Awards 2013 - current
Awards by Project State
Awards by Application Fiscal Year
There are no other additional requirements at the national level. If there are additional state-specific requirements they will be listed above.
For questions about the Community Connect Grant Program, you may contact one of our General Field Representatives (GFR). To find a GFR, visit our GFR contact map. You may also submit your questions and suggestions to help us identify how we can meet your broadband service needs.
Tuesday, March 28, 1-2:30 PM ET: Community Connect Grant Program Webinar
Tuesday, April 11, 1-2:30 PM ET: Community Connect Grant Program Webinar