Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Rural eConnectivity (ReConnect) Program

 
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    CFDA#

    10.752
     

    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    A - Primarily intended to fund technology

    Authority

    Department of Agriculture (USDA)

    Summary

    The ReConnect Program provides loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. In facilitating the expansion of broadband services and infrastructure, the program will fuel long-term rural economic development and opportunities in rural America. 


    For FY 22, loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations will be made for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. 


    For a proposed funded service area (PFSA) to be eligible for funding, at least 90 percent of the households in the PFSA must lack sufficient access to broadband. For purposes of this program, sufficient access to broadband means any rural area in which households have access to fixed, terrestrial broadband service of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 20 Mbps upstream.


    The USDA encourages applicants to consider projects that will advance the following key priorities:

    • Assisting Rural communities recover economically from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly disadvantaged communities.
    • Ensuring all rural residents have equitable access to Rural Development programs and benefits from Rural Development funded projects.
    • Reducing climate pollution and increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change through economic support to rural communities.

    In addition, the USDA would like to highlight the importance of creating good paying jobs with strong labor standards.


    *Round 4 updates: The USDA has made several changes to the ReConnect Program for Round 4 aimed at increasing the availability of funding in rural areas where residents and businesses lack access to affordable, high-speed internet. ReConnect improvements include:

    1. Allowing applicants to serve areas where at least 50% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet. 
    2. Adding a funding category for projects where 90% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet. For applications submitted under this category, no matching funds will be required.  
    3. Waiving the matching funds requirement for:
      1. Alaska Native Corporations;
      2. Tribal Governments;
      3. projects proposing to provide service in colonies;
      4. projects proposing to serve persistent poverty counties; and
      5. projects proposing to provide service in socially vulnerable communities. 
     

    History of Funding

    2019 awardees can be seen at https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/awardees.


    2020 awardees can be seen at https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/round-two-awardees.


    https://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/news-release/biden-harris-administration-announces-401-million-high-speed-internet-access-rural-areas-1

    Additional Information

    Applications will be scored based on the following criteria:

    • Rurality of PFSA (25 points)
    • Level of existing service (25 points)
    • Economic need of the community (20 points)
    • Affordability (20 points)
    • Labor Standards (20 points)
    • Tribal lands (15 points)
    • Local governments, non-profits, and cooperatives (15 points)
    • Socially Vulnerable Communities (15 points)
    • Net neutrality (10 points)
    • Wholesale broadband services (10 points)

    Contacts

    Laurel Leverrier

    Laurel Leverrier
    1400 Independence Avenue Southwest
    Washington, DC 20228
    (202) 720-9554
     

  • Eligibility Details

    The following entities are eligible to apply for assistance under the ReConnect Program:

    • Private institutions of higher education
    • State governments
    • Small businesses
    • Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
    • City or township governments
    • Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
    • Others (see text field entitled "Additional Information on Eligibility" for clarification)
    • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
    • Independent school districts
    • For profit organizations other than small businesses
    • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
    • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
    • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
    • Special district governments
    • County governments

    Cooperatives or Mutual Organizations and Limited Liability Partnerships are eligible to apply.

    ?

     For a PFSA to be eligible for funding under this FOA (except for applicants who are Alaska Native Corporations, Tribal Governments, Colonias, Persistent Poverty Areas and Socially Vulnerable Communities) least 50 percent of the households in the PFSA must lack sufficient access to broadband as defined in this FOA.

    Deadline Details

    The application window for Round 4 will open on September 6, 2022. Applications are to be submitted by November 2, 2022 by 11:59, p.m., EST. A similar deadline is anticipated annually.

    Award Details

    Up to $1.15 billion in funding is available in FY 2022. Award amounts will be limited as follows:

    • 100% Grant: The maximum amount that can be requested in an application is $25,000,000. Cost sharing/matching of 25% is required.
    • 50% Loan / 50% Grant: The maximum amount that can be requested in an application is $25,000,000 for the loan and $25,000,000 for the grant. Loan and grant amounts will always be equal. The interest rate for the loan component will be set at the Treasury rate for the remaining amortization period at the time of each advance of funds. 
    • 100% Loan: The maximum amount that can be requested in an application is $50,000,000. The interest rate will be set at a fixed 2%.
    • 100% Grant for Tribal Governments and Socially Vulnerable Communities: The maximum amount that can be requested is $25,000,000. However, to encourage broadband deployment in remote areas, if an applicant provides supporting information that demonstrates that the PFSA(s) is comprised 100 percent of locations within areas classified by the USDA Economic Research Service as FAR Level 4, the applicant may request up to $35,000,000. A GIS layer of FAR Level 4 areas can be found at https://www.usda.gov/reconnect

    Round 4 funding amounts: The USDA was allotted $1.9 billion for Round 4 of the ReConnect program in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts


    • Top 10 Local Grant Programs You Won't Want to Miss in 2015 - Sponsored by Sprint - Playback Available
    • Funding IT Security in Government and Education - Sponsored by VMware - Playback Available
    • Funding Technology-Fueled Innovation in State and Local Government - Sponsored by NetApp and Avnet Technology Solutions - Playback Available

 

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