NJDOE 2020 Bridging the Digital Divide
Purpose of the Grant
The NJDOE 2020 Bridging the Digital Divide grant opportunity is particularly focused on ensuring equitable teaching and learning environments, to give students and teachers access to remote learning devices and the necessary broadband service to connect with school educational materials. This includes special attention to special education, English learner, and low-income populations. By bridging the gaps to allow districts across the state to deploy one-to-one devices to students and staff the Administration will redirect Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) funds to close any remaining gaps and fill the unmet digital device and internet connectivity needs of New Jersey students.
The NJDOE will offer a one-time $54 million formula grant using a portion of the State’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. This funding will be disbursed to public school districts to purchase digital devices and internet connectivity for one-to-one student use based on the need and the availability of philanthropic donations.
The Administration’s approach to closing the digital divide is three-pronged and consists of the following:
- The district will complete the needs assessment portion of the application by providing the district's technological needs. Once the application is submitted, a formula will be applied to the application determining the final allocation to the district. The district will move to step 2 of the process.
- Concurrent to Digital Divide allocation being generated by the system, the district will reach out to philanthropic organizations who answered the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Request for Information (RFI). Interested parties will have until July 31, 2020 to respond. Information received from the districts by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) will help connect school districts in need with identified philanthropic partners and potential solutions.
- After philanthropy and ESSER Fund grants have generated the final allocation to the district; the district will amend their application to budget their technology needs.
Because of the ongoing and unparalleled financial strain the COVID-19 pandemic has created across the board in the State, it is critical to exhaust philanthropic opportunities and CARES Act funding prior to filling remaining gaps with CRF funds. This will ensure that CRF funds can be efficiently directed to address as many critical needs as possible.