When COVID-19 hit hard in March, no one could have imagined the impact it would have on everyday life; ten months later and we are still fighting and adjusting to the changes thrown our way. One area in particular has had to adjust rapidly to an entirely new way of doing things: education. In general, kids are having to learn from home, which has presented significant challenges for numerous children. There are many kids that, due to either their economic status or their location, cannot easily access the online education materials that their schools are providing.
It is up to the schools and the communities they serve to do their best to help these children have the bright future that a proper education can provide. Already, we can see a huge digital divide growing. “Around 1 in 10 of the poorest children in the U.S. has little or no access to technology for learning. 12.2 percent of respondents from households earning less than $25,000 a year said a digital device was rarely or never available for a child to use for learning and 9.8 percent said the same of the internet.” (Source)
Thankfully, there are a number of ways that schools can address these shortfalls. Schools across the country have been utilizing government programs to aid in expanding their IT departments and their students’ ability to connect.
The pandemic and remote learning have changed the landscape of our education system. IT departments and educators have scrambled to overcome these new hurdles, already making great strides to help their students adapt.
Initiatives for narrowing the digital divide include:
AVAILABLE SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY FUNDING
These are four of the programs that schools/libraries can use to help
their students access educational materials and resources. To explore your
funding options and discuss technology solutions for your district, connect with a GMI School Funding Expert.
E-Rate is the largest technology-related funding available to public schools and libraries. $3.9 Billion is released annually by the FCC to close the technology gaps in education and learning needs. In 2020, the FCC increased the E-Rate funding, creating an opportunity for school districts to upgrade their network infrastructure to better support their population and network to meet the needs of today and the future of learning.
What E-Rate Covers
Schools and libraries that meet eligibility requirements can receive discounts of 20-90% off telecommunications, telecommunications services, internet access, internal connections, managed internal broadband services, and basic maintenance of internal connections.
There are two categories of services:
You can see a list of eligible services here.
Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants (RUS-DLT)
What is RUS-DLT?
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. (Source)
The School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP)
What is the SVPP?
The Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act of 2018 (STOP School Violence Act of 2018) gave the COPS Office authority to provide awards directly to states, units of local government, or Indian tribes to improve security at schools and on school grounds in the jurisdiction of the grantee through evidence-based school safety programs. (Source)
What is the CARES Act?
HELP TO SECURE FUNDING
GMI has worked with over 100 school districts to build a technology plan and then implement that plan once funding is secured. We believe a successful E-Rate program begins with thoughtful planning before even the first application is filed and are here to work with you at every step of the process.
Our e-rate experts can help:
Connect with a GMI School Technology Expert to explore funding options for your district.