Minnesota DOE Grants for School Bus Wi-Fi Now Available

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The Minnesota Department of Education announced it is accepting applications for the Broadband Expansion Off-Campus Learning Grant Program, which includes funds to make Wi-Fi available on school buses.

A total of $500,000 in grant funds are available, and individual applicants are eligible to receive up to $50,000 each. The goal of the grant program is to provide access and connectivity to students from low-income families and/or in underserved neighborhoods.

“The grant program is available to public and charter schools to support expanding broadband access for students,” said Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin last week. “We fashioned this program to go right at unserved and underserved areas like rural Aitkin and Crow Wing counties. The program also takes into consideration access for low income families. Broadband is a very important tool for all our students in today’s education environment.”

The program is split into two parts. Part A supports wireless, off-campus learning through the use of USB modems, data cards or other mobile broadband devices. Applicants must discuss their approach in prioritizing access for low-income students, and may include descriptions of local or private matching grants or in-kind contributions.

Part B focuses on school bus internet access. School districts that are eligible for general education transportation sparsity revenue may apply for a school bus internet access grant as part of the overall application process. Part B funds may be used to buy or lease things like routers and mobile hotspots, as well as 1:1 devices.

Grant applications are due by 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 9.  Interested parties may contact Jennifer Nelson at: jennifer.r.nelson@state.mn.us or (651) 582-8791 or Rep. Lueck at: rep.dale.lueck@house.mn or (218) 927-2495.