Item Coversheet

Board Action Request

Item Description:
Allocate CARES Act funds in the amt of $700,000 to provide broadband access, digital literacy services, and technology support and training for youth, seniors and other individuals impacted by COVID-19, 09/29/20–12/30/20, NTE $700,000

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners allocates $700,000 of its federal funding from the Coronavirus Relief Fund available under section 601(a) of the Social Security Act, as added by section 5001 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) to procure and distribute accessories, broadband access and maintenance and technical services, and digital literacy training services, for individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, from September 29, 2020, through December 30, 2020, and that the Controller be authorized to accept and disburse funds as directed; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any funding amounts not utilized will be returned to the CARES Act fund at Hennepin County for future distribution.


Section 601(a) of the Social Security Act, as added by section 5001 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (Fund) and appropriated $150 billion to the Fund. Under the CARES Act, the Fund is to be used to make payments for specified uses to states and certain local governments; the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories; and Tribal governments. Hennepin County received a direct payment out of the Fund from the U.S. Treasury.

The CARES Act provides that money from the Fund may only be used to cover costs that:

  1. are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);

  2. were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and

  3. were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends on December 30, 2020.

Allowable expenditures include expenditures incurred to respond to second-order effects of the emergency, as well as expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures through the use of technology, such as expenses to improve telework capabilities for public employees; expenses for establishing and operating public telemedicine capabilities for COVID-19-related treatment; expenses to facilitate distance learning, including technological improvements, in connection with school closings; and any other COVID-19-related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria. 

In response to exigencies presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the County Board approved $1 million in August to purchase Chromebooks or other low-cost laptops for students, seniors and individuals seeking employment (Resolution 20-0299).

Beyond devices, other barriers have surfaced that also inhibit these residents from getting online successfully, such as knowledge to use the device, support if individuals encounter problems, and accessories that ensure the technology delivers the most value to the user.

This request is for $700,000 to cover the cost of technology support contracts with nonprofit vendors; wifi hotspots and other accessories, as needed; and digital literacy training materials and services. These wraparound supports will accompany distributed laptops, where needed, as well as other individuals in the targeted groups.

Current Request: This request seeks $700,000 in federal CARES funding be allocated to procure wraparound support services, digital literacy training, wifi hotspots, for individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommendation from County Administrator: Recommend Approval