U.S. Department of Agriculture: Community Connect Grant Program
The Community Connect Program provides financial assistance organizations to provide service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all premises in currently unserved, lower-income, and extremely rural areas. Priority will be given to rural areas that demonstrate the greatest need for broadband services.
Additionally, the program’s “community-oriented connectivity” concept will stimulate practical, everyday uses and applications of broadband by cultivating the deployment of new broadband services that improve economic development and provide enhanced educational and health care opportunities in rural areas.
Grant funds may be used to finance:
- The construction, acquisition, or leasing of facilities, including spectrum, land or buildings to deploy service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all participating critical community facilities and all required facilities needed to offer such service to all residential and business customers located within the proposed funded service area.
- The improvement, expansion, construction, or acquisition of a community center that furnishes free internet access at the Broadband Grant Speed and provides computer access points. Grant funds provided for such costs shall not exceed the lesser of ten percent (10%) of the grant amount requested or $150,000.
- The cost of bandwidth to provide service free of charge at the Broadband Grant Speed to critical community facilities for the first two years of operation.
Projects must propose to fulfill the following requirements:
- Minimum Broadband Service. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) uses this measurement to determine whether a proposed funded service area is served or unserved. The minimum rate-of-data transmission that qualifies as Minimum Broadband Service is 10 megabits per second downstream and one megabit per second upstream for both fixed and mobile broadband service. RUS will determine that broadband service does not exist for areas with no broadband access or whose access is less than 10 Mbps downstream plus 1 Mbps upstream.
- Minimum Broadband Grant Speed. This speed is the minimum bandwidth that an applicant must propose to deliver to every customer in the proposed funded service area. The minimum rate-of-data transmission that qualifies as Minimum Broadband Grant Speed is 25 megabits downstream and 3 megabits upstream for both fixed and mobile service to the customer.
- Rural Area. A rural area refers to any area, as confirmed by the most recent decennial Census of the United States, which is not located within: 1) a city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; or 2) an urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants.
- Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA). Applicants must define a contiguous geographic area within an eligible rural area, in which broadband service does not currently exist, and where the applicant proposes to offer service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all residential and business customers. A PFSA must not overlap with Service Areas of current RUS borrowers and grantees.
- Critical Community Facilities. Applicants must propose to offer service, free of charge to users, at the Broadband Grant Speed to all critical community facilities located within the PFSA for at least two years.
- Community Center. Applicants must propose to provide a community center, within the PFSA, with at least two computer access points and wireless access at the Broadband Grant Speed free of charge to users for at least two years.
Amount: A total of $10,000,000 is available to award up to 10 grants. Grants will range from $100,000-$3,000,000. Applicants must provide a match, in the form of cash, of 15% of the total amount of financial assistance being requested.
Eligibility: Incorporated organizations; Indian tribes or tribal organizations; state or local units of government; or cooperatives, private corporations, or limited liability companies organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis.
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