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Financial Assistance

Office of Broadband Development

Federal Funding Guide

BroadbandUSA, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's broadband website, has issued a resource on federal funding available for broadband projects. See the BroadbandUSA: Guide to Federal Funding of Broadband Projects publication.

Broadband Grants for Healthcare

The Federal Communications Commission's Healthcare Connect Fund makes grants to healthcare providers. Get the details and learn how to apply.

Community Reinvestment Act and Public Welfare Investments

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is a law that encourages banks to make loans and investments and provide services to low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. The federal oversight agencies recently updated their guidance on what types of community development lending and investments may receive CRA consideration, clarifying that broadband investments are eligible. The rationale is twofold. First, more and more banking activities are online; to ensure that low and moderate income individuals have access to banking activities, broadband investment is eligible. Second, broadband infrastructure is recognized as being important to economic development for revitalizing and stabilizing LMI communities.

The Public Welfare Investment (PWI) Authority allows national banks to make investments that are not otherwise expressly permitted under the National Bank Act. National banks may make investments that are primarily designed to promote the public welfare if those investments primarily benefit low- and moderate-income individuals, low- and moderate-income areas, or other areas targeted by a government entity for redevelopment, or if the investments would receive consideration under CRA. PWI investments can be used to show CRA compliance. There are limits on the amount of PWI investments that can be made. (A bank’s aggregate public welfare investments and outstanding commitments, including the proposed investment, cannot exceed 15 percent of its capital and surplus.)

If you are investigating funding for a broadband project, you may want to contact your local bank(s) to explore CRA or PWI as possible options.

Reduced Pricing Through Your Provider

If you are a low-income subscriber residing in either a Comcast, CenturyLink, or Midcontinent area, you may be eligible for reduced pricing of monthly broadband service. Learn more about Comcast's program. Learn more about CenturyLink's program. Learn more about Midcontinent's program.

Other Minnesota cable companies (Charter, Mediacom, and Sjoberg’s Cable) offer discounted pricing for broadband access as well under the federal Connect2Compete program. If your location is served by one of these cable companies, you may want to contact them directly to see if you are eligible.

Discounted Computers

Both Comcast and CenturyLink offer discounted pricing on computers. Another option for a low-cost computer is available through the nonprofit PCs for People. Reach them by phone at 651-354-2552.

If you want to use a computer but do not want to own one or do not have a broadband connection, the Technology Literacy Collaborative lists community technology centers, including libraries, in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. Learn more about computers and how to use them.

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