ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Education is now accepting applications for the Broadband Expansion Off-Campus Learning Grant Program.
The Minnesota Legislature created the program in 2016. A total of $500,000 in new grant funds was authorized for the program in a continuing effort to improve broadband access with a focused on reaching students in unserved/underserved areas and low income families. Individual applicants are eligible for up to $50,000 in funding this year.
“The grant program is available to public and charter schools to support expanding broadband access for students,” said Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin. “We fashioned this program to go right at unserved and underserved areas like rural Aitkin and Crow Wing counties. The program also takes into consideration access for low income families. Broadband is a very important tool for all our students in today’s education environment.”
The program has two parts. Part A projects support wireless off-campus learning through a student's use of a data card, USB modem, or other mobile broadband device. This funding supports student access to learning materials available on the Internet through a mobile broadband connection. Applications must describe their approach for identifying and prioritizing access for low-income students and may include a description of local or private matching grants or in-kind contributions.
Qualifying school districts may use Part B funds to purchase or lease equipment designed to make Internet access available on school buses, including routers and mobile Wi-Fi hot spots to connect to the internet, and may also make available one-to-one devices for students.
The Minnesota Department of Education and Office of Broadband will co-host a webinar at 2 p.m. on Aug. 18 on the Internet Broadband Expansion for Students initiative. The webinar link is: https://intercall.webex.com/intercall. The meeting number is 593 256 492 and the webinar meeting password is K12Wireless. To connect by phone through a toll-free conference call, dial (888) 742-5095. Follow instructions, then enter this conference code: 3249482049.
Grant applications must be received by (not postmarked by) 3:30 p.m. Sept. 9. For more information contact Jennifer Nelson at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 582-8791 or Lueck at: email@example.com or (218) 927-2495.