Legislative Update: FCC Emergency Connectivity Fund and Apprenticeship Grants

This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened applications for the Emergency Connectivity Fund. Read below to learn more about what this funding covers, as well as grant awards for apprenticeship programs, progress in the postsecondary negotiated rulemaking process and a notice for public comment. 

FCC Opens Application for Emergency Connectivity Fund
On Tuesday FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that schools and libraries can now apply for the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund. The Emergency Connectivity Fund was established through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and provides financial support for laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connections. Eligible schools and libraries can submit applications through August 13 for funding to purchase equipment and services for the 2021-22 school year.

A fact sheet about the program can be found here and frequently asked questions can be found here

DOL Awards Grants to Support Registered Apprenticeships

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced over $130 million awarded in grants to develop, modernize and diversify Registered Apprenticeship Programs in 15 states and establish Registered Technical Assistance Centers of Excellence in three states and Washington, DC. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh shared the following statement about the grants: “Today’s announcement reflects the Department of Labor’s renewed commitment to expanding Registered Apprenticeship to train U.S. workers and ensure that diversity and inclusion are core elements of our nation’s post-pandemic economic recovery. Using Registered Apprenticeships to expand career opportunities for all workers, especially those in under-represented populations, is a priority for the department and a critical component of the Biden-Harris administration’s American Jobs Plan.”

DOL awarded close to $31 million through cooperative agreements to create four Registered Apprenticeship Technical Assistance Centers of Excellence to provide technical support to programs. These centers will support successful and inclusive pipelines, provide technical assistance to employers and industry and work across public and private sector partners to expand apprenticeship opportunities for women, youth, people of color, rural communities, justice-involved individuals and people with disabilities. 

The full list of states and organizations that are recipients of this grant can be found here

ED Begins Postsecondary Negotiated Rulemaking Process

Over the course of three days (June 21-24), the U.S. Department of Education (ED) held virtual public hearings for stakeholder input on proposed federal student aid policies. This started the negotiated rulemaking process. Following these three hearings, ED will look for nominations of non-federal negotiators to serve on negotiated rulemaking committees that will review regulatory issues to improve outcomes for students- likely to convene later this summer. 

ED Invites Public Comment for Future Discretionary Grants

Secretary Cardona proposed, and opened for public comment, six priorities and related definitions for use in future discretionary grant programs. These are aligned with evidence-based and capacity-building strategies to address interconnected policy issues within the country’s education system with a focus on creating conditions to provide equitable access to educational opportunities. Career Technical Education (CTE) that is equitable and high-quality comes up throughout the priorities. Comments can be submitted through July 30, 20201. Additional information about the notice and comment submission can be found here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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