August 10, 2023 - 

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in an ongoing commitment to help the state close the digital divide, today provided approximately $1 million in broadband-related grants to assist schools in low-income urban and rural areas.

Through its Digital Divide Grant Program, the CPUC awarded grants totaling $999,480 to four community-based organizations: Outside the Lens, Human IT, the Small School Districts’ Association, and Thrive. The grants will fund new programs providing digital literacy training, take home devices, broadband connections, and teacher training in nine schools in Inyo County, Kern County, Modoc County, and San Diego with a student population of approximately 2,556.

“I appreciate the continued progress being made in low-income urban and rural schools in providing resources towards digital literacy, which is so important for the success of students,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma.

“I am pleased to support these Digital Divide Grant Program pilot grants to low-income schools throughout California. The grants not only provide broadband connections and take-home devices to students, but also support digital literacy training and teacher training to help students take full advantage of broadband access,” said Commissioner Darcie L. Houck. “I look forward to seeing these grants implemented to further our collective efforts to close the digital divide.”

The Digital Divide Grant Program, launched in October 2022, is funded through a percentage of revenues generated from lease agreements for wireless telecommunications facilities located on state-owned property. The Program was designed to provide four grants of up to $250,000 each to help fund projects to combat the digital divide. Eligible projects must serve a beneficiary school located in an urban or rural low-income small school district. Projects must address physical gaps in local broadband networks, affordability, access to personal devices, and digital skills training, and must provide a holistic solution including, but not limited to student home broadband connection, student required hardware (e.g., laptop, notebook and/or hotspots), student curriculum focused on the use of technology, software to enable distance learning for student and teacher, and training for teachers in the use of technology for distance learning. Grant recipients must be a non-profit community-based organization with a demonstrated record of work to address the digital divide.

The Digital Divide Grant Program is one of many broadband funding programs overseen by the CPUC to assist communities and stakeholders in developing solutions to the digital divide, including planning and building infrastructure, affordability, and adoption challenges. 

In July 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed historic broadband legislation into law to help bridge the digital divide and provide reliable and affordable internet access to all Californians. Senate Bill 156 (Chapter 112, Statutes of 2021) expanded the state’s broadband fiber infrastructure and increased internet connectivity for families and businesses. On July 1, 2022, Governor Newsom designated the CPUC as the California administrator for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. On June 30, 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration awarded the CPUC $1.86 billion for last-mile broadband deployment. The Biden Administration awarded the CPUC $4.9 million for BEAD Initial Planning Funds. At the same time, the Biden Administration announced the award of $4 million in a State Digital Equity Planning Grant to the California Department of Technology (CDT). The CPUC and CDT will coordinate efforts as BEAD and Digital Equity programs are planned and implemented.

Read the Resolution approved here.

Information on the CPUC’s broadband work is available on the CPUC’s website, and information on the Broadband for All initiative is available here.


About the California Public Utilities Commission

The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. Visit for more information.

Press Release

Related Topics

Related Divisions