Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority to Open Application Period for New $20 Million Program to Provide Laptops for Libraries, Non-Profits, & Community Institutions

Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) Executive Director Brandon Carson announced that the application period for the new Digital Connectivity Technology Program will be open beginning Thursday, June 20 through Monday, August 19, 2024. Online applications can be made through the PBDA website starting June 20.

Through the new program, the PBDA will purchase and distribute $20 million in laptops for eligible public-facing institutions such as libraries, municipalities, workforce training organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and other community anchor institutions located in areas where affordability has been identified as a barrier to broadband adoption and use who will then make them available to individuals who lack the technology needed to access the internet.

The PBDA will begin reviewing Digital Connectivity Technology Program applications on August 20 and anticipates announcing the grant awards in November. Projects are expected to begin in early 2025. Grant recipients are required to make digital skills training available through their own program or the free options on the PBDA website, however end users are not required to participate in a training program.

“We are working hard to provide the resources Pennsylvanians need to make ‘internet for all’ a reality across the Commonwealth,” said Executive Director Brandon Carson. The Digital Connectivity Technology Program will provide libraries and other community institutions with the technology required to give Pennsylvanians the internet access they need to have better health, education, and economic outcomes.”

Across Pennsylvania there are currently 286,000 households, businesses, schools, and libraries that either have no access or insufficient access to broadband. The funding for the Digital Connectivity Technology Program was made available through the American Rescue Plan Capital Projects Funding, announced by the PBDA in March 2024.

Through the federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program the Commonwealth will receive more than $1.16 billion in federal funding to expand broadband in unserved and underserved areas to make sure every Pennsylvanian has access to affordable, high-speed internet. In May, the PBDA received federal approval of its Volume II BEAD Initial Proposal, an important step forward in Pennsylvania’s efforts to invest $1.16 billion in federal funding. The Volume II BEAD Initial Proposal outlines the Commonwealth’s plan to expand internet service for unserved and underserved Pennsylvanians.

In addition to the Digital Connectivity Technology Program and BEAD funding, the Commonwealth also received:

  • $204 million in funding through the Capital Projects Fund Broadband Infrastructure Program to connect unserved/underserved areas, and
  • $45 million through the Multi-Purpose Community Facilities Program for community projects to construct, acquire, or improve facilities that are open to the public and will directly enable work, education, and health monitoring.