Regional Broadband Partners Program
The Regional Broadband Partners Program will help deploy, sustain and maximize the benefits of broadband infrastructure investment in all regions of the state.
Regional Broadband Partners will receive funding and support provided by the Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) in partnership with the Maine Broadband Coalition (MBC) and National Digital Equity Center (NDEC).
MCA, MBC, and NDEC will identify and provide support for 12- 15 regional partners who 1) build and lead digital inclusion efforts in their respective regions and 2) provide support for community and regional scale broadband infrastructure solutions.
Please Note: Applicants must conduct a pre-application meeting prior to applying. Please contact Maggie Drummond-Bahl to arrange a meeting.
How to Apply
Applicants should conduct a pre-application meeting prior to submission to review the proposed geographic area and scope of work in year one. All applicants will apply through MCA’s online grants portal. Applicants will be asked to identify the general geography of the region they intend to cover, partners who will be part of the regional alliance, a plan, timeline, and budget.
- Application Opens: September 22, 2022
- Applicant Information Session: October 6, 2022 at 12:00 pm (register here)
- Proposal Deadline: October 31, 2022 at 11:59 pm
- Award Announcement: November 11, 2022
- Funding Awarded: November 2022
- Support community-driven broadband solutions that ensure universal connectivity
- Strengthen and grow the number of partners focusing on digital equity and inclusion
- Create alignment and coordination between communities, regions, and the state
Who is eligible to apply?
To be eligible for this grant program, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, planning commissions, economic development agencies or organizations, councils of government (COGs), schools, libraries, Indian Tribal governments or political subdivisions of tribal governments.
- Applicants must be located in the identified region to be served OR be adjacent and able to demonstrate previous experience, role, and/or relationships within the proposed region.
- Applicants in regions covered by the Regional Broadband Partners are NOT excluded from applying to MCA's recently launched Get Ready Community Support Program, which will provide technical assistance and resources to specific communities. These two programs will complement each other by amplifying the impact of accelerated community broadband planning by creating alignment and coordination at a regional level.
Grantees must accomplish the following deliverables as part of the grant commitment in year 1:
- Provide support and education to communities and groups of communities within the region to help support broadband planning and community-driven infrastructure solutions;
- Convene a broad regional alliance focused on digital inclusion;
- Develop a regional digital inclusion plan
- Identify a regional representative to serve on the statewide Digital Equity Taskforce;
- Identify a regional representative or partner to serve on the 5-Year Broadband Action Plan committee;
- Support data collection and research;
- Helping identify potential community anchor institution investment opportunities.
- Funding will not be eligible for use in matching MCA grants.
- Funding won’t be eligible for funding capital projects without prior consent from MCA.
The program will prioritize proposals and partnerships that demonstrate the following:
- Demonstrated experience by the applicant and/or identified partners within the region in community-driven broadband and broadband planning, digital equity, digital inclusion, or digital skills programming, including participation in the Maine Broadband Coalition's “community of practice.” If this is a new program area for the applicant, it will be important to describe how quickly the applicant can adopt broadband as a priority, for example, if a Board decision or other decision-making process might require time.
- Ability to convene a broad, representative alliance of partners identified and committed to the project within their region. Click here for examples of suggested partner organizations.
- Demonstrated capacity to complete the program deliverables through a clear staffing plan and identified roles for members of the regional alliance.
MCA will make final decisions to maximize geographic coverage of the state. Applicants will be encouraged to think broadly about the region they might cover and in some cases may be connected with other applicants to consider partnerships to serve additional areas or combine areas of expertise.
Staff & Technical Support
The MCA, MBC, and NDEC staff, as well as additional consultants as needed, will work directly with the Regional Partners, including:
- Coordinating group meetings of Regional Broadband Partners
- Meeting individually with Regional Partners and/or attending meetings in each region
- Providing general broadband and digital equity education and support for community-driven broadband planning within each region;
- Providing regular updates about infrastructure projects within each region and advising on infrastructure solutions and grant opportunities;
- Facilitating the development of regional digital inclusion plans
- Other support as these needs are identified throughout the program.
This program offers a two-year funding commitment ranging from $100,000 - $250,000 per year per grantee or a maximum of $500,000 total for each Regional Broadband Partner awarded. Successful completion of year 1 deliverables is required before year 2 funding will be awarded. It is anticipated that Regional Partners will use the funding to support broadband staff position(s) and to enable partners and individuals to participate fully in regional alliances through stipends or partner grants, in addition to communications, materials, or program expenses as needed.
The MCA will make the final award decisions.
Regional partners, as well as communities and groups of communities within each region, may apply for other MCA grant programs such as the Get Ready, Connect the Ready, or ReachME programs.
Reporting and Compliance
Year one funding will be awarded in November 2022, for a performance period of 12 months for year one activities. Year one reports will be due October 31, 2023, and interim reports may be required at intervals throughout the initial performance period in consultation with MCA staff.