WASHINGTON, June 21, 2024 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Dr. Basil Gooden announced today that USDA is making available $25 million through the Broadband Technical Assistance (BTA) Program to help local organizations, cooperatives and Tribes expand affordable, high-speed internet projects in rural communities. The Department will begin accepting applications on June 21, 2024.

Funding is made possible through President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It reflects the goals of the President’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and middle out, and to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure.

“USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet,” Under Secretary Gooden said. “Through the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is partnering with small towns, Tribes, local utilities, rural cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to this critical service, which will boost opportunities and help build bright futures. That’s how you grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the nation.”

The BTA program provides funding to help communities and organizations receive or deliver broadband technical assistance and training that will expand high-speed internet into rural and Tribal communities. This includes providing funding for feasibility studies, network designs, hiring efforts, application development assistance and more.

Through this program, USDA is helping rural communities identify and pursue opportunities to meet the Administration’s goal to connect every community in America with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.

Today’s announcement marks the second round of funding for the program. In its first round, the program received 96 applications requesting a total of $44.5 million.

In this second round, applicants must apply through one of two funding categories.

Under the Technical Assistance Providers category, applicants must propose to deliver broadband technical assistance that will benefit rural communities. Up to $15 million is available. The minimum award is $100,000. The maximum is $1 million. 

Under the Technical Assistance Recipients category, applicants must be the recipients of the broadband technical assistance. Up to $10 million is available. The minimum award is $50,000. The maximum is $500,000.

Applications will also be evaluated according to USDA’s new scoring criteria, which includes points for projects seeking to serve distressed communities and advance racial justice, place-based equity and opportunity. For example, points will be awarded to projects from or benefiting Rural Partners Network communities.

USDA encourages applicants to consider projects that will advance the following key priorities:

  • Assisting rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and through improved infrastructure;
  • Ensuring all rural residents have equitable access to USDA Rural Development (RD) programs and benefits from RD funded projects; and
  • Reducing climate pollution and increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change through economic support to rural communities.

Applications must be submitted electronically using Grants.gov no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 20, 2024.

Additional information is available on page 52012 of the June 21, 2024, Federal Register.

Background

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation also lowers costs for internet service and helps close the digital divide, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities provided by internet access.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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