All4Ed, National Indian Education Association, National Urban League, and UnidosUS urge Congress to provide $40 billion over the next five years in continued funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) in the upcoming Budget Reconciliation Act as proposed by the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act (H.R.4663/S. 2447).
For too long, the digital divide for students, often referred to as the Homework Gap, has undercut educational opportunities for students of color and those living in low-income households. A 2020 analysis from All4Ed, National Indian Education Association, National Urban League, and UnidosUS found one in three Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native families did not have high-speed home internet access prior to the pandemic. Across all races and ethnicities, nearly 17 million children nationwide did not have the high-speed home internet access needed to fully participate in online learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the Homework Gap and created a sense of urgency to address it. In response, Congress created the Emergency Connectivity Fund and provided over $7 billion to ensure our students have the high-speed home internet access and connected devices needed to engage in learning. Within the first 45-day application window, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports that school districts and libraries have submitted funding requests amounting
to more than 70% of these funds, which would support internet connections for more than 5 million students and educators. The remaining funds will likely be requested in the FCC’s next application window which begins on September 28. Unless Congress extends funding for ECF as proposed by the SUCCESS Act, these students and educators will lose their internet access when these funds expire in July 2022.
ECF will narrow the Homework Gap during the 2021-2022 school year; it would be unconscionable to take away students’ internet access the following school year.