USDA Seeks Applications for Broadband Grants for Rural Communities

TEMPLE, TEXAS, April 19, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is soliciting applications for grants to establish broadband in unserved rural communities through its Community Connect program. Community Connect is administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service and helps to fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not economically viable for private sector providers to provide service.

“Through Community Connect and our other telecommunications programs, USDA helps to ensure that rural residents have access to broadband to run businesses, get the most from their education and benefit from the infinite services that fast, reliable broadband provides,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to supporting America’s rural communities through targeted investments in our bioeconomy and renewable energy, local and regional food systems, conservation initiatives and rural development.”

“Many rural communities in Texas do not have access to broadband service,” said Texas State Director Paco Valentin. “USDA’s Community Connect Grant Program offers opportunities to rural residents to gain global access to quality economic, social and educational opportunities.”

USDA plans to award up to $11.7 million in grants nationally through the Community Connect grant program. The grants fund broadband infrastructure to help foster economic growth by delivering connectivity to the global marketplace. The grants also fund broadband for community centers and public institutions.

The minimum grant is $100,000 for FY 2016. The maximum award is $3 million. USDA announced new rules in 2013 to better target Community Connect grants to areas where they are needed the most. To view the rules and how to apply, go to https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-04-18/pdf/2016-08931.pdf