SAD 4 receives $24,500 to shrink ‘digital divide’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine released a statement from King, co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, announcing that the Federal Communications Commission will be distributing $1,646,178 to 23 Maine schools and school districts. The recipients include SAD 4 of Guilford, which will receive $24,4470.
The funding is the first wave of funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund created by the American Rescue Plan negotiated by King, which passed in March by a vote of 50-49 with the Senator’s vote. Additional grants will be forthcoming in the months ahead. Additional details are available at www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org.
King previously announced that $128 million would be delivered from the American Rescue Plan to expand Maine’s broadband funding. Combined with the funding Maine is projected to receive from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act upon House passage, the state will receive hundreds of millions of dollars to increase affordable, high-speed broadband access statewide and narrow Maine’s digital divide.
“Students are returning to their classrooms, but the digital divide remains a major challenge. A high-speed broadband connection is a must-have for young people pursuing their education,” said King. “As more research and assignments move online, we must ensure that students aren’t blocked from completing their work by insufficient connectivity at home. These funds from the American Rescue Plan are a needed step forward to help ensure that every student, in every community, has a chance to succeed academically during this pandemic and beyond.”
“The American Rescue Plan continues to deliver for Maine,” said Gov. Janet Mills. “These critical funds will help schools across our state make important strides to bridge the digital divide and ensure that every student, regardless of where they live in Maine, is able to have the connectivity and digital tools they need to succeed. I thank Sen. King for his hard work to secure these important funds.”
As co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, King has been a strong advocate for expanding affordable broadband access as a way to increase economic opportunity in rural Maine – and has raised the issue consistently during the coronavirus pandemic. The March edition of King’s “Inside Maine” podcast focused on this historic investment during a conversation with Tilson Technologies’ Josh Broder, and Pew Charitable Trusts’ Kathryn de Wit. King has also urged the Biden Administration to update federal standards for high-speed broadband to reflect modern uses, calling for updating the definition of high-speed broadband to 100 megabits per second of upload and download speed.
Expanding broadband is one of Mills’ highest priorities. In addition to establishing the Maine Connectivity Authority, the Governor dedicated $5.6 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds in partnership with private internet providers to build out permanent internet infrastructure to more than 730 students across rural Maine. The initiative built on the Mills Administration’s previous work to secure mobile hotspots and learning devices for nearly 24,000 students across Maine after schools suspended in-classroom instruction and adopted remote learning earlier this year.