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Financial Assistance

Office of Broadband Development

NTIA Interactive Federal Funding Guide

The NTIA has created an interactive federal funding guide for broadband related programs offered by 12 federal agencies and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Guide provides an interactive, step-by-step approach for users to filter through more than 90 broadband related programs to see if any are appropriate for the project a community or provider has in mind. The guide is available Interactive Federal Funding Guide.

USDA Rural Development ReConnect Program

The USDA issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Rural eConnectivity Program (the ReConnect Program) in the February 21, 2024 Federal Register. The application window opened on March 22, 2024 and closes on May 28, 2024 at 11:59 a.m. EST. The ReConnect Program provides loans, grants and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas with up to $700 million available this round. This is the fifth round of funding being made available under the ReConnect Program. See the NOFO for complete information on the program.

USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine

The DLT Program provides financial assistance to enable and improve distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas. DLT grant funds support the use of telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment, and related advanced technologies by students, teachers, medical professionals, and rural residents. These grants are intended to increase rural access to education, training, and health care resources that are otherwise unavailable or limited in scope.

The application window for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program for 2024 is closed.

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.

USDA-RUS Community Connect Program

The 2023 application window for the Community Connect Program closed on February 20, 2024 and awards are expected to be announced by USDA before the end of the year. The Community Connect program provides financial assistance to eligible applicants to provide broadband service in rural, economically challenged communities that lack broadband service at speeds of at least 10Mbps download/1Mbps upload.

General information on this program is available on the RUS website.

Broadband Grants for Healthcare

The Federal Communications Commission's Rural Health Care Fund supports healthcare facilities in rural areas. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). To learn more about funding opportunities, see the USAC website.

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 Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has a publication on Closing the Digital Divide: A Framework of Meeting CRA Obligations.

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.

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