Connections for Classrooms is a grant program joining multiple state agencies around the common goal of ensuring Georgia schools and classrooms have the high-speed broadband access required for digital and blended learning. The program combines funds from the following two sources:
- Bond funds appropriated to the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE)
- State general funds appropriated to the One Georgia Authority at the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) manages the funds.
The program is part of a broader statewide effort to expand classroom high-speed broadband access in response to Governor Deal’s Digital Learning Task Force recommendations as well as the GaDOE’s efforts to enable personalized learning for Georgia students.
The effort complements the expansion of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) PeachNet network to connect every Georgia local educational agency (LEA) to its high-speed network. The partnership between USG and GaDOE will ensure that all district central offices have 100 megabits per second per school of bandwidth by July 2015. Connections for Classrooms ensures that schools have sufficient network infrastructure to effectively utilize the increased bandwidth at the classroom level.
On October 27, 2014, GOSA and the GaDOE released $37 million in grant awards to 104 local education authorities (102 districts, 1 state school, and 1 state charter school). Click here for more information on the 2014 grant awards. In the 2014 grant program, 146 LEAs applied for more than $198 million in network infrastructure needs. However, the grant program was only able to award $37 million to 104 LEAs.
As a result of the significant remaining infrastructure needs, Governor Deal proposed and the General Assembly approved a budget that included an additional $30 million to the One Georgia Authority for additional investments in school network infrastructure. These funds will be used for two additional rounds in 2015.
On May 5, 2015, Governor Deal released Round 2 awards totaling $25.3 million to 136 LEAs. Click here for more information about the 2015 grant program.
On January 19, 2016, Governor Deal announced Round 3 awards totaling $8.2 million. Click here for more information about Round 3.
In July 2016, GOSA announced a new round of competitive grant funding, the Digital Learning Device Rural Grant Program. This round enables rural, high-need districts that are poised to implement digital learning to purchase laptops, tablets, or other mobile devices used for instruction. On December 21, 2016, Governor Deal today announced that 33 rural, high-need school districts will be awarded nearly $4 million. Click here for the grant award announcement.