ALA and Capital One invite rural libraries to apply for Community Connect: Digital Access at Home  grants. This new grant opportunity for rural public libraries will support digital access and financial capability for 20 communities nationwide.
Through Community Connect: Digital Access at Home, 20 rural public libraries will receive resources to support financial capability and internet access for their patrons for two years.
Applications will be accepted from July 6 to August 26, 2020. Library workers can apply online at ala.org/CommunityConnect .
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide – and brought new urgency to ALA’s longstanding commitment to equitable connectivity,” said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. “ALA is thrilled to partner with Capital One to help communities get online for their health and well-being and to distribute information to help rural Americans overcome financial challenges.”
Libraries selected to participate in Community Connect will receive:
- five Verizon Wi-Fi hotspots with two-year contracts and service for lending to patrons
- a $2,000 stipend to support financial literacy programming
- a curated book list of financial literacy titles featured in ALA’s Financial Literacy LibGuide 
- a copy of ALA Editions’ “Rainy Day Ready: Financial Literacy Programs and Tools” 
- professional development and support
Public libraries are eligible if they serve a legal service area population of 25,000 or less and are in a rural community at least five miles from an urbanized area, per the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) definition.
People across the country are increasingly reliant on broadband for the delivery of essential services like education and tele-medicine. Data from the Federal Communications Commission reveals that 22 percent of Americans in rural areas and 28 percent of Americans living on tribal lands lack broadband coverage.
“Capital One recognizes that digital access is a lever that has the potential to unlock opportunities for education, entrepreneurship and employment, as well as increased connections to health, financial well-being and other services that are increasingly only accessible online,” said Mariadele Priest, senior director of community impact & investing at Capital One. “We are proud to support Community Connect and underscore the need for digital access in rural communities, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that exacerbates existing digital inequalities.”
The goals of Community Connect are to expand the service capacity of rural libraries by offering hotspot lending policies and financial capability seminars; improve the digital access of rural library patrons via hotspots and enhance opportunities for social mobility by pursuing remote education, economic inclusion, financial management and health; and demonstrate the efficacy of the pilot program and use results to build consensus on how to address sustainable digital inclusion for rural communities.
Community Connect: Digital Access at Home will be managed by ALA’s Public Programs Office.