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Thursday, April 30, 2020

PLA and Microsoft Public WiFi Access Micro Grant Program for Rural Libraries

Deadline: Awards will be made weekly until all funds are distributed.

The Public Library Association (PLA) and Microsoft Corp. are working together to increase access to technology in rural communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Microsoft will provide $120,000 to help public libraries in rural communities with hardware and support to install public WiFi access points on or near library grounds. The initiative will cover the costs of the hardware, and when approved, installation.

Only rural libraries in specific counties are eligible, please review this list of eligible states and counties.  PLA and Microsoft are targeting these resources at libraries that may not otherwise have capacity to purchase and install public access points, so libraries must be serving rural communities (as defined by IMLS locale codes 41, 42, or 43. See IMLS Public Libraries Survey, Fiscal Year 2017, pages 23–24).

For all libraries, including those who are not eligible for hardware and other support due to size or geography, PLA and Microsoft are offering training tools and other resources to help with virtual programing. Visit PLA’s Digital Literacy page for free online training resources, recorded webinars on offering digital literacy training, and more.

This initiative offers hardware (Cisco AIR-AP3702I-A-K9 or other products) to create new public WiFi access points using the library’s current WiFi service outside the library facility. Priority will be to libraries that only need hardware and can install themselves or through their own ISPs or community partners. Libraries approved may submit expense reimbursement (up to $500) for materials and costs to promote the new service. Libraries needing installation help are encouraged to apply and are eligible, but additional steps will be needed to secure installation assistance, so awards may take longer to complete. All eligible libraries who apply and are approved will be connected with Microsoft to arrange delivery of the hardware, at a minimum, and to arrange assistance with installation if needed.

Awards will be made to successful applicants on a rolling basis each week until the commitment is fulfilled. Applications received by Monday (May 4, May 11, May 18, etc.) will be reviewed that week and recipients will be notified on Friday of that week (May 8, May 15, May 22, etc.). PLA and Microsoft will continue to accept applications until funds secured for the program are exhausted.

Read grant overview
Preview the application
Review the list eligible states and counties
Complete the application

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