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Ohio Opens Grant Program For Student Broadband Accessibility

In this Thursday, March 26, 2020, photo, this wi-fi-enabled school bus, seen at an apartment complex in Winnsboro, S.C., is one of many being sent to rural and lower-income areas around South Carolina to help students with distance learning.
Meg Kinnard
/
Associated Press
In this Thursday, March 26, 2020, photo, this wi-fi-enabled school bus, seen at an apartment complex in Winnsboro, S.C., is one of many being sent to rural and lower-income areas around South Carolina to help students with distance learning.

Ohio is now accepting applications for schools seeking funds to expand broadband accessibility. That program has lifted a restriction that supporters say will go even further in helping low-income districts.

The state is granting $50 million in federal funds to school districts that need help providing Internet access to students.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced that the state lifted its requirement for schools to match 50% of the funds, citing that it was a challenge for schools in need to find the resources for that match.

"We have $50 million, it's a lot of money, but it's not going to be enough to probably serve everyone, so we will target it to those who need it the most," Husted says.

The BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant application says schools are eligible if they show they're trying to expand accessibility for:

  • economically disadvantaged students, as defined for EMIS reporting, including, students on free lunch;
  • vlnerable children and youth as defined by the Ohio Departement of Education;
  • students who might have chronic conditions; and
  • students who do not have other access to the internet.

Those eligibility requirements, according to Husted, are intended to help students who cannot afford Internet access or are likely to choose a distance learning option for the beginning of the school year.