The Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is an initiative included in the American Rescue Plan approved by Congress in March. It will help schools and libraries across the country provide critical online resources to students, staff, and library patrons – among other things, by addressing needs for remote learning.
The program “will make a major dent in closing one of the cruelest parts of the digital divide,” acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel says.
The FCC announced funding for 260 library systems and individual libraries across the country. The more than $850,000 award to the Kansas City Public Library is the fourth-largest behind appropriations for the District of Columbia Public Library, Houston’s Harris County Public Library, and the St. Louis Public Library.
A total of more than $1.2 billion is going out from the FCC to 3,040 schools and 24 consortiums as well as the libraries.
KCPL will apply its funding to the purchase of 1,200 Chromebooks with built-in 4G LTE and 300 hotspots with unlimited data to supplement the Library’s current hotspot lending program. The Chromebooks and hotspots will be put into circulation and made available to Library cardholders and community partners that need devices for programming.
These additions to the Library’s resources will not only help keep up with the evolving needs created by remote work but also heighten the Library's reach and access to its digital services. The new devices also will expand services introduced in the past 18 months to address the technology gap felt by students and adults studying and working remotely.