About Us
Our Team
Our Impact
Contact Us
Corporate Programs
Posted by Heather Chirtea at 08:53:56 PM Thu 06/17/2021
Back to Press Releases

Schools and libraries could miss out due to short application window

6/17/21--  The federal government is releasing $7 billion in Emergency Connectivity Funding for computing devices, hot spots, and internet service to solve the digital divide for millions of students and families across the U.S. The funding could go unused if schools and libraries don’t apply during the short application window that falls during summer vacation. Digital Wish, a Delaware-based nonprofit, is trying to get the word out as the application opens June 29th, and closes 45 days later on August 13th-- just as schools are returning from vacation. The nonprofit has pooled a wealth of information together in an online webinar hub to show applicants what is required to take advantage of this special funding. Through a series of webinars, Digital Wish talks to experts covering frequently asked questions, funding tactics and strategies. The funds could literally solve the shortfall of laptops, hotspots and internet service for millions of Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Call to Action!

You can help us solve the digital divide. Digital Wish is asking everyone to urge their local schools to apply before the August 13, 2021 deadline. The $7 billion in funding is passing through the established E-rate program, however many schools don’t realize that the E-rate rules have changed. In an unprecedented shift in policy, all schools qualify, regardless of their free lunch percentages (wealth). They simply have to show that there’s a need for student devices and connectivity in the home. In order to prepare to apply, schools need to find out two things immediately: 

1. Quantify the need - Assess the need for internet and computing devices in students’ homes.

2. Get price quotes - Get written pricing on hot spots, internet service, and computing devices. 

And finally, schools must apply to win. That application MUST be filed over the summer. Schools can get step-by-step instructions on how to prepare to apply at www.digitalwish.org. Anyone can also visit Digital Wish and share art, resources, tweets, and videos to help get the word out.

Heather Chirtea, Executive Director of the nonprofit, is worried many schools will miss out on the opportunity because they aren’t informed of the changing E-rate rules and simplified application process. 

“Many smaller districts don’t even apply to E-rate because they either don’t qualify, or don’t have anyone to complete the application,” Chirtea said. “We have a host of grant-writing consultants who can help.” 

Digital Wish has also created the webinar series “Solving the Digital Divide” to escalate the issues and share solutions in a permanent video archive. Digital Wish’s webinar series breaks down those new qualifications. 

“E-rate has historically been a discount program based on the poverty-level of the student body,” said John Harrington, E-rate and education technology expert and CEO of Funds for Learning. “However, now the new rules allow for all schools to be paid for the full cost of home internet service and up to $250 per hot spot and $400 per computing device. All they have to do is show there’s a need.”

His is one the voices featured in the webinar series. More Digital Wish webinars are launching daily for school administrators, principals, teachers and donors. It’s now the end of the school year and it’s very hard to get educators’ attention because they are preoccupied with end-of-term assignments and graduation. Now is the time to get the word out about this crucial funding in order to bring equity to students and families across the country that lack the technology resources to access their education, but we need your help to spread the word. Together we can solve the digital divide. 

About Digital Wish

Since COVID-19, Digital Wish has delivered thousands of donated hot spots to schools. They set up technology discounts with top-tier manufacturers. In 2009 Digital Wish was founded based on a seed grant from Olympus, and within two years, grew that to $5.9M, allowing the nonprofit to aid more than 500,000 students. Digital Wish was also awarded an Obama stimulus grant for $1.125M dollars to implement 1:1 technology in 30 towns across Vermont, increasing student technology proficiency by 30%. With a membership of 68,000 technology educators, Digital Wish is able to offer free resources by partnering with internationally known technology names, including Motorola, Dell, Verizon, Microsoft and more. Visit www.digitalwish.org to make and get technology donations and discounts to solve the digital divide for America’s schoolchildren.

Digital Wish Media Contact:
Jennifer Miller, [email protected]
Digital Wish
PO Box 255
Milton, DE 19968

Tags: Digital Divide, Connect A Student, Webinars, E-rate, ERate, Erate, ECF, Emergency Connectivity Fund