Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich today announced that Montgomery Connects, the County’s digital equity program, has received more than $22.6 million in Federal and State grants to expand access to computers, broadband service and service discounts, and technology training for low-income residents and seniors.
Montgomery Connects is using most of the grant funding to provide 50,000 loaner computers to low-income County residents. More than 76 percent of Montgomery Connects computer recipients are Black or Latino. Among the recipients, 84 percent live in households earning less than $50,000 annually.
“Everyone deserves to be part of the digital world—it is a necessity,” said County Executive Elrich. “Montgomery County was focused on digital equity before the pandemic, which is critical to our economic and educational recovery efforts. I appreciate the Federal, State, and private sector entities for these investments and am proud of what Montgomery Connects is doing to bring much-needed funding to expand digital equity programs for our residents most in need.”
Montgomery Connects has partnered with more than 35 County facilities, organizations, and key community stakeholders to host 80 distribution events throughout the County. Midway through the effort, the program has distributed 25,000 grant-funded Chromebook computers.
Montgomery Connects is powered by the County’s Department of Technology and Enterprise Business Solutions (TEBS). TEBS is leveraging grants and County funding to operate many programs to close the digital divide.
According to Montgomery County:
“A big shout out to our community partners for making this program a huge success—WorkSource Montgomery, Upcounty Hub, Oak Street Chapel Hub, Manna Food, Nonprofit Montgomery, Cross Community, the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy and the County’s library and recreation departments,” said County Council President Gabe Albornoz. “With their help, we created learning and job opportunities for some of our most vulnerable residents.”
Montgomery Connects has received the following grants:
- $15,975,170 from the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), in partnership with Montgomery County Public Libraries, to purchase 40,000 Chromebooks for residents who would not have access to a computer for education
- $4,009,755 through 21 Maryland Emergency Education Relief (MEER) grants to purchase 10,000 Chromebooks for K-12 students for hybrid learning
- $1,345,376 through eight Maryland Emergency Education Relief (MEER) grants to purchase 1,000 laptops for departments, community organizations and Linkages to Learning partners working with low-income and underserved K-12 students
- $961,000 through four Maryland Connected Communities Grants (MD-GAPS) to expand MoCoNet, the County’s 100 Mbps residential broadband service and Montgomery Connects digital engagement program. The program assists residents living in affordable housing developments in partnership with the Housing Opportunities Commission and the Montgomery Housing Partnership
- $175,000 through a Truist Bank Expanding Potential in Communities (EPIC) grant to bring broadband service and training to seniors served by MoCoNet and living in Housing Opportunities Commission and APAH affordable housing developments
- $155,000 of Montgomery County’s Health and Human Services American Rescue Plan Older Americans Act funding to assist qualified seniors. The funds are used to enroll the seniors in the Federal and Maryland Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to receive $45 per month off home broadband services and for award-winning training through the Senior Planet Montgomery program operated by OATS Powered by AARP.