On December 12, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) opened its Request for Applications for the Technology Lending Grants. These grants, established by Texas Education Code §32.301, are part of the implementation of HB 3526 which passed during the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature. Providing Internet access at home is a strong legislative priority and why TCEA strongly supported HB 3526.
I vividly remember the comment. I was speaking to some Texas technology directors to garner their support for more affordable broadband for Texas school districts when Joy Rousseau of Arp ISD stopped me and said, “If you solve the problem at school, but don’t solve the problem at home, you haven’t solved the problem.” Instantly, I knew she was right. If students don’t have access to the Internet at home, there will continue to be a digital divide, which is now known as the homework gap.
This homework gap is real. According to the 2016 Speak Up Survey , 61% of Texas middle school students and 79% of high school students indicate they use the Internet at home at least a few times a week. 54% of the high school students use it every day. The student’s Internet use is not dependent on whether the teacher purposely assigns homework that needs the Internet because only 13% of Texas teachers indicate they do so. Students are going to the Internet for help in their homework because it is the library of the 21st century. Students without this home access are at a distinct disadvantage. They have fewer ways to access content and are not learning the necessary skills of finding accurate information to answer their research questions.
Purpose of Grants
The Technology Lending Grants made possible by this bill provide $10 million in funding for districts to purchase personal, portable wireless devices such as laptops, tablets, or other technologies that can provide students access to digital materials to meet school objectives while at home. In additional to personal devices, the grant funds can also be used to help provide Internet access itself at home.
The grants are designed to help school districts ensure that all their students have access to digital content and tools at home to improve the homework gap. There will be approximately 144 grants awarded, ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 each. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, February 6, 2018.
Free Grant Writing Webinar
For schools looking for help with the grant process, TCEA will be offering a free webinar with tricks and tips for writing and submitting grants. The webinar, which is open to anyone, will be January 9 at 2:00 p.m. The webinar is open to anyone.
- January 10, 2018 – Last date to submit FAQ’s to TEA contact person.
- January 19, 2018 – Due date for Notice of Intent to Apply (but not required)
- January 19, 2018 – FAQs posted to TEA Grant Opportunities
- February 6, 2018 – Due date for grant application
- February 14-March 4, 2018 – Competitive review period
- May 1, 2018 – Beginning date of grant
- August 31, 2019 – Ending date of grant.
See the General and Fiscal Guidelines, Eligibility Requirements. LEAs are eligible to apply for funding through the 2018–2019 Technology Lending Grant program. Applicants must meet the following criteria to be considered for funding:
- LEAs must have an enrollment of at least 40% economically disadvantaged students at the participating campus(es).
- Eligibility will be determined using the 2016–2017 Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) Campus Report data from the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS); and
- LEAs must have a Technology Plan on file with TEA for the 2016–2017 school year or show evidence of a current local technology plan on participating campuses. See Required Program-Related Attachments on page 18 of the Technology Lending Program Guidelines.
For information about applying for one of these grants, please see the TEA Request for Applications.
Photo of Student on Couch by imgix on Unsplash