FCC Establishes Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program

Source: Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

New competitive federal grant program that will be available to support Affordable Connectivity Program enrollment, as well as this new blog post highlighting what it means specifically for local governments. Please note that we are still waiting on further operational details from FCC – no NOFOs or application materials/deadlines are available just yet!

On August 5, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission established the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program, which will provide eligible partners grant funds to conduct outreach in support of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).  The ACP Second Report and Order approved by the Commission directs the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (GCB) to develop, administer, and manage the outreach grant program.

The ACP is already helping over 13 million low-income American households bridge the connectivity divide by providing the affordable broadband services they need for work, school, healthcare and other things, there are still millions of eligible households that have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity.  Using the $100 million the Commission designated for ACP outreach efforts in its order establishing rules for the ACP, the Outreach Grant Program will address that gap by supporting governmental and non-governmental partners in conducting a wide range of outreach activities to raise awareness of ACP and increase enrollment among eligible households, as described in the Second Report and Order. 

Through the Outreach Grant Program, the Commission seeks to enlist local partners around the country to help inform ACP-eligible households about the program in their communities, and to provide those partners with the funding and resources needed to increase participation among those Americans most in need of affordable connectivity support.

More specifically, the Commission established the structure and guidelines for the Outreach Grant Program by:

  • Setting the goals and objectives.
  • Providing examples of the types of outreach activities and expenses that may be considered for funding and types of eligible entities.
  • Allocating funding set-asides for specific types of grantees.
  • Establishing important safeguards to promote program integrity and guard against potential waste, fraud and abuse.
  • Adopting and implements regulations pertaining to grants in Title 2, Subtitle B of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Directing CGB, in coordination with the Office of General Counsel (OGC) and the Office of the Managing Director (OMD), as appropriate, to develop, manage, and administer the Outreach Grant Program.
  • Providing guidance and regulatory requirements for the framework for the Outreach Grant Program.
  • Addressing other requirements and administrative aspects of the Outreach Grant Program.

The Commission determined that additional more granular details on specific grant program requirements and the application process are to be provided through Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs).  Such NOFOs (which include information about the amount of funding available, eligible entities, fundable expenses and activities, application and evaluation process, reporting requirements, and other rules and requirements for the grant opportunity) will be issued subsequently to solicit grant applications, in the awards to individual eligible grantees, and in orders and/or public notices issued by CGB in coordination with OMD, the Wireline Competition Bureau and OGC, as appropriate.

Additional details on specific grant program requirements and the application process will be provided at a later date. 

A copy of the Second Report and Order can be found here.