Q: What is the Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant?
A: This grant, not to exceed $75,000 per award, helps local entities pay for broadband due-diligence business studies, which include:
- Full feasibility determinations, including economic business plans
- Twenty-year financial break-even analysis
- Competitive broadband analysis
- Demographic analysis, with comparison to other projects
- The ordering on construction plans to maximize return
- Analysis of federal funding opportunities
Grantees will conduct these studies in preparation for seeking federal grants and loans for broadband development programs administered by the FCC, USDA, or other federal agencies.
Q: Why is the grant important to Arkansas?
A: Generally, local entities lack the means to invest in broadband due-diligence business studies, which are vital to successfully competing in federal broadband grants and loans. The Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant will equip up to 30 local entities with up to $75,000 each to perform such studies, increasing awardee awareness of broadband needs and possible solutions while gaining access to tools that will enable them to effectively compete for federal broadband grants and loans. The long-term goal of this grant is to witness an increase in federal broadband grants and loans awarded to our state’s local entities.
Q: Who may apply for the grant?
A: Local entities within Arkansas, defined as a county, including without limitation an unincorporated community within a county, a city of the first class, a city of the second class, and an incorporated town.
Q: I am a 501c3 non-profit. Can I be the applicant?
A: A non-profit organization can only act as an applicant in proposals targeting unincorporated communities. If your non-profit organization wishes to target a municipality or county, you may partner with a local entity to participate in their grant award.
For unincorporated community applications, your non-profit organization can only act as an applicant if the mailing address on file at the IRS is located in an unincorporated community in Arkansas and your proposal includes that unincorporated community in your proposed service area. To verify your eligibility upon submission, please include any IRS document addressed to your mailing address as an attachment to your proposal. These are the only conditions in which an applicant may be a nonprofit organization.
Q: I am a for-profit business. Can I be the applicant?
A: A for-profit business can only act as an applicant in proposals targeting unincorporated communities. If your for-profit business wishes to target a municipality or county, you may partner with a local entity to participate in their grant award.
For unincorporated community applications, your business can only act as an applicant if the mailing address on file at the IRS is located in an unincorporated community in Arkansas and your proposal includes that unincorporated community in your proposed service area. To verify your eligibility upon submission, please include any IRS document addressed to your mailing address as an attachment to your proposal. These are the only conditions in which an applicant may be a for-profit business.
Q: Who may apply on behalf on an unincorporated community?
A: Any business, organization, or individual may apply to perform a broadband due-diligence business study in an unincorporated community provided the mailing address on file at the IRS is located in an unincorporated community in Arkansas and your proposal includes that unincorporated community in your proposed service area. To verify your eligibility upon submission, please include any IRS document addressed to your mailing address as an attachment to your proposal.
Q: When and how will the public be introduced to the grant?
A: Promotion of the opportunity will begin on August 1, 2020. The promotion strategy is actively being developed and will include dedicated web pages, press releases, and other public outreach efforts.
Q: When will grant proposals be accepted?
A: The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and proposal instructions will be published by August 15, 2020, at which time proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted.
Q: How long is the project period?
A: The project period is 180 days, which is six months. Please only propose what you can achieve in six months. Unspent funds will be paid back to the Treasurer of the State within nine months after receipt of the award.
Q: How do applicants apply for the grant?
A: Applicants may download the application package and upload the completed package on the IDHI webpage designated for the Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant. Applicants may also submit paper copies to the UAMS IDHI, including an original and two copies.
Q: Where can applicants get more information about the grant?
Q: If they had an earlier federal grant for broadband, are they eligible for this one?
Q: What if they are getting grants that the Arkansas State Broadband office is currently distributing?
A: Under “need,” identify any broadband grants and/or loans awarded to the applicant or its partners in the last two calendar years. Also indicate the purpose and amount of the funds awarded.
Q: What type of organization can apply as the lead applicant?
A: Only a local entity can be the lead applicant, defined as “a county, including without limitation an unincorporated community within a county, a city of the first class, a city of the second class and an incorporated town.”
Q: We have broadband in our city, but it is slow and unreliable. Can we apply for this award?
A: Yes, even if you have 25/3 coverage, you may apply for this award.
Q: My 25/3 broadband coverage map seems inaccurate. How can I demonstrate our need if the map says these services are available?
A: Under the Description of Need section of the Project Narrative, the “Broadband needs” question allows applicants to explain their perceived broadband deficiencies that may not be evidence in the 25/3 map or other resources.
Q: I represent an organization that does to fit the definition of a “local entity.” How can I apply?
A: Organizations like a school district, a library, an electric cooperative, or internet service provider can act as a partner on applications where local entities are the lead applicant.
Q: Can an applicant receive multiple awards?
A: A local entity can only receive one grant award. A partnering organization may take part in multiple awards by applying in partnership with different local entities
Q: What if we need more than $75,000 to conduct a feasibility study?
A: Each grant award is limited to $75,000. You may choose to partner with other local entities to expand your project and potential awards. Each proposal must stand on its own and include activities that fit within the $75,000 limit.
Q: Do you have money left in the program?
A: Yes. We will periodically announce awards after they are granted and announce when funds are exhausted.
Q: How does the grant review sync up with the FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction?
A: The FCC RDOF Phase 1 auction is scheduled to begin on October 29, 2020. We are currently reviewing the AR Rural Broadband I.D. Trust Fund proposals for six-month projects. The proposal review process is expected to take no more than one month.
Q: Should multiple counties apply as one or separately?
A: This depends on the applicant’s financial needs to complete the proposed activities. We will review single local entity applications and those representing several local entities. However, only one local entity can take the lead as the applicant. The applicant will be the fiscal agent and responsible party for overseeing the grant activities. Grant awards are limited to $75,000 per applicant.
Q: We have a narrative written from an ISP’s perspective. Does this need to be revised for the local entity?
A: It would be ideal to revise from the local entity’s perspective since they are the applicant. If this is not possible, please introduce any such text with an explanation of how the text would be applied to the local entity.
Q: We feel we may need to assemble a workgroup of regional business and community leaders, ISPs and consumers to determine our broadband needs. Is this something this grant would help fund?
Q: How can we convince an ISP to provide or improve coverage in our area?
A: You can ask ISPs you want in your area or those already in your area to provide or improve broadband coverage. Using these grant funds, you could pay the ISP to conduct a feasibility study to determine what services are needed and a business case for such services.
Q: Do you have a list of potential contractors that can conduct broadband due-diligence studies?
A: Yes, they are included as “consultants” on the resource list provided on this website. We will update this list as new consultants are discovered.
Q: How can my organization be added to your resource list?
A: Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, provide your contact information and explain your scope of services.