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About the Grant

Grant Team

Grant Timeline


RFP #LG-99-2018 Information Page

The IMLS Sparks Grant, Nebraska Schools and Libraries--Breaking the Ice and Igniting Internet Relationships, as the name implies, was intended to kindle partnerships between schools and libraries, and through Internet sharing, to help narrow the Homework Gap for public K-12 students.

The Nebraska Library Commission, in partnership with the Nebraska Office of the Chief Information Officer, was awarded a Sparks Grant from the Institute of Museums and Library Services, National Leadership Grant in the amount of $25,000. Five Nebraska communities were selected to participate in the grant project; Bancroft, Bayard, Genoa, Imperial, Verdigre and Wymore. Using fixed wireless technology, the grant enabled the public library to offer the school district's students and staff the ability to access the school district's network within the public library. The project began June 1, 2018 and concluded on May 31, 2019.

Did you know in Nebraska:

  • About 15% of Nebraska's public K-12 students have no Internet at home, or Internet so slow or unreliable that they are not able to carry on digital learning activities (~45,000 students = "Homework Gap")
  • Many of these students go home with a school district-owned device, many of them Chromebooks, which require a constant Internet connection
  • Public libraries are the one place where students and parents can go to get publicly available Wi-Fi, and every evening, cars appear in the local public library's parking lot to try to gain at least some Wi-Fi access to check e-mail, research, do homework, order online products, and apply for jobs.
  • But, 82% of these public libraries have Internet speeds lower than 25Mbps (FCC minimum definition for household broadband), and 68% are at or lower than 12Mbps, which makes the parking lot Wi-Fi experience less than desirable
  • Within 2 miles of almost every rural public library sits a school building that is connected by fiber to Network Nebraska and capable of Internet speeds from several hundred Mbps to over 1,000Mbps
  • In the vast majority of these rural communities, the public school district and the public library have never discussed any infrastructure or Internet sharing.

Project Coordinators:

  • Project Director: Holly Woldt, Library Technology Support Specialist, Nebraska Library Commission, 800-307-2665 (in NE only), 402-471-4871
  • Tom Rolfes, Education I.T. Manager, Nebraska Office of the CIO/NITC, 402-471-7969

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum
and Library Services [IMLS grant: LG-99-18-0018-18].