September 1 through 17, 2020, NTIA’s Minority Broadband Initiative and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service developed and conducted a 6-part technical assistance webinar series to promote HBCU competitiveness for USDA broadband funding for the Distance Learning & Telemedicine, Community Connect, and Reconnect programs.
The webinars provided valuable guidance on the grants application process, narrative preparation, and what to include in the applicant’s budget/financials statement. There was also a session on the USDA mapping tool that applicants must use and one on examples of success stories.
Introduction to USDA Telecommunication Programs
Webinar 1 - Program Overview
Presenters will provide a general overview of the five Telecommunication Programs administered by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) that provide a variety of loans and grants to build and expand telecommunications infrastructure. The presentation will highlight key components of each program, budgetary information, and key contacts available to assist throughout the application process.
Webinar 2 - Community Connect
The Community Connect program helps rural communities extend access where broadband service is least likely to be commercially available. Projects funded by these grants help rural residents tap into the Internet for jobs, education, healthcare, public safety, and community development.
Webinar 3 - ReConnect Program Overview
The ReConnect Program offers loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America without sufficient access to broadband. The awards made under this program will bring high-speed broadband to rural areas that lack sufficient access to broadband.
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. For example, this program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another.
This webinar provides an overview of USDA’s various mapping tools. Presenters will walk attendees through the mapping tools and highlight key considerations for potential applicants.
Webinar 6 - Success Stories and Lessons Learned
This webinar highlights successful Telecommunication Program projects and lessons learned. Presenters will provide tips and technical assistance based on past experiences to help attendees understand strategies for submitting a successful application.