The homework gap is the digital divide that millions of children faced prepandemic and will continue to impede learning without support from Congress. Even before COVID-19, children across the country would stay after school to use their schools’ devices or sit in a fast-food parking lot to access high-speed internet. The near-total shutdown of schools across the country due to the pandemic created a new sense of urgency to connect the 16.9 million children without high-speed home internet, including 1 in 3 Black, Latinx, and American Indian/Alaska Native households and 2 in 5 rural families.
To address the homework gap, Congress established the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a $7.171 billion program created under the American Rescue Plan of 2021 that helps schools and libraries provide students and library patrons with home internet access and connected devices.
Over 15 million children have benefited from the program. However, demand for the program outpaced supply by over $2 billion. More, funding from the program will be depleted by the end 2023. Therefore, millions of children could lose the
internet access they need to regain learning lost due to the pandemic.