New $200 Million Cybersecurity Grant for Schools & Libraries: A FCC Initiative
July 8, 2024

In an era where cybersecurity threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, the Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program is a beacon of hope. This groundbreaking initiative by the FCC aims to allocate up to $200 million over three years to bolster the cybersecurity defenses of schools and libraries across the nation.

The Pilot Program: A Strategic Approach to Cybersecurity

Modeled after the successful Connected Care Pilot, this program will assess the effectiveness of using Universal Service funding to support cybersecurity services and equipment for educational and library broadband networks. The ultimate goal is to determine the viability of permanent funding to safeguard these critical infrastructures.

Eligibility and Application Process

Who Can Apply? The program is open to schools, libraries, and consortia (such as regional or statewide groups) that meet E-Rate eligibility requirements. Importantly, applicants do not need to be current or former E-Rate participants to qualify.

What Services and Equipment are Covered? Participants can seek reimbursement for a wide array of cybersecurity services and equipment, including Advanced/Next Generation Firewalls, Endpoint Protection, Identity Protection and Authentication, and Monitoring, Detection, and Response. It’s important to not that anything not covered under E-Rate for cybersecurity is generally covered, a comprehensive list of eligible services and equipment is available for applicants.

How to Apply? The application process is divided into two parts:

  1. Part One: Applicants provide general information, including cybersecurity experience, implementation of best practices, and use of federal resources. Details about the proposed project, including goals, services, equipment, costs, and the cybersecurity risks addressed, are also required.
  2. Part Two: For selected participants, more detailed information about their cybersecurity posture, including current risk management, history of threats, training policies, and challenges faced, will be necessary.

Selection and Post-Application Steps

The FCC aims to create a diverse portfolio of projects, targeting both large and small, urban and rural institutions, with a special focus on low-income and Tribal applicants. Selected participants will be announced via Public Notice, outlining the next steps, including competitive bidding for services and equipment procurement.

Upon approval, participants will receive a Funding Commitment Decision Letter (FCDL). Following the start of service delivery, participants and providers can request reimbursements and make necessary adjustments through the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

Ensuring Integrity and Compliance

To protect against waste, fraud, and abuse, participants must adhere to competitive bidding, document retention, and audit requirements. They are also prohibited from soliciting or accepting gifts from service providers. Violations can lead to severe penalties, including funding denials, cancellation of commitments, and potential civil, criminal, or administrative actions.

The Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program is a critical step towards securing the digital infrastructure of our educational institutions and libraries. Here at DOF Creations, we are here to guide and support eligible entities through the application process, ensuring they can leverage this opportunity to enhance their cybersecurity measures effectively. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can assist you in navigating this significant initiative.