|U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA’s) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service’s (RUS’) Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP)|
Neighborhood Networks provides potential funding sources to help centers develop and improve programs and services. Featured this week are the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA’s) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service’s (RUS’) Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP).
NTIA and RUS jointly issued a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) and solicitation of applications on July 1, 2009, (published in the Federal Register July 9, 2009) describing the availability of funds to expand public computer center capacity, encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service, and deploy broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas in the United States. The NOFA also explains application requirements and how applicants will be evaluated.
Program Areas: Up to $1.6 billion in BTOP funds are available to be awarded under this NOFA. Most relevant to Neighborhood Networks centers and consortia are the grants available from the BTOP. These are:
- Grants for Public Computer Centers
Public Computer Center grants are intended to fund projects that provide broadband access to the general public or a specific vulnerable population, such as low-income, unemployed, seniors, children, minorities, and people with disabilities. Projects must create or expand a public computer center meeting a specific public need for broadband service, including but not limited to education, employment, economic development, and enhanced service for healthcare delivery, children, and vulnerable populations (See NOFA p. 33114). The first of three Public Computer Center grant rounds will award $50 million in project support (p. 33110).
- Grants for Sustainable Broadband Projects
Sustainable Broadband Adoption grants are intended to fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand, such as projects focused on broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment or support, particularly among vulnerable populations (See NOFA p. 33114). The first of three Sustainable Broadband Adoption grant rounds will award $150 million in project support (p. 33110).
Centers and consortia may wish to submit applications in partnership with organizations that possess expertise in information technology provision and training. This may include public, private, and/or not-for-profit partners, all of which are eligible to apply.
Targeted Area: Nationwide.
Eligibility: The following entities are eligible to apply for funding:
- States, local governments, or any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof.
- The District of Columbia.
- A territory or possession of the United States.
- An Indian tribe (as defined in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b)).
- A native Hawaiian organization.
- A nonprofit foundation, a nonprofit corporation, a nonprofit institution, or a nonprofit association.
- Other nonprofit entities.
- For-profit corporations.
- Limited liability companies.
- Cooperative or mutual organizations.
Award Amount: Award amounts vary.
Application Process: The BTOP application review is a two–step process. After an initial screening to determine whether applications meet eligibility factors, such as application completeness, each BTOP application will be scored against objective evaluation criteria and not against other applications. A description of each step follows:
- Step One, Evaluation. Applications will be evaluated by at least three expert reviewers against evaluation criteria. Scores will be averaged and applications considered to be the most highly qualified will advance for further consideration.
If an application does not comply with ALL evaluation criteria, it will be disqualified from further consideration.
- Step Two, Due Diligence. For applications that advance to this “due diligence” phase, NTIA will request applicants to submit additional information as necessary to substantiate representations made in their application. The nature and scope of additional information requested will depend on the BTOP funding category in which the application was made. NTIA will review and analyze supplemental information and assign a rating based on a five–point scale, reflecting the consistency of the application with supporting documents.
Electronic applications will be available on or about July 31, 2009. Paper applications for grant requests of less than $1 million will be accepted. The NOFA and required application can be found online. Although paper applications may be submitted, NTIA and RUS are strongly encouraging everyone to submit their application electronically.
Applicants may wish to contact their state’s Governor’s office which NTIA will consult as part of the grant review process to determine each state’s priority areas (See NOFA, p. 33107).
Centers are encouraged to begin the application process early as the NOFA sets forth specific requirements of all applicants, including:
Obtaining a DUNS Number and registering in the CCR should be done immediately to avoid any last-minute issues.
Deadlines: Applications will be accepted from 8 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) July 14, 2009 to 5 p.m. (ET) August 14, 2009.
Contact: For complete details of this NOFA, contact:
The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
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Department of Housing and Urban
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410
708-1112 TTY: (202)