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Congresswoman Escobar Secures $2.8 Million in Funding for El Paso Public Broadband in Appropriations Bill

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) announced the inclusion of $2.8 million in funding for the Cotton Valley Connect Project by Digital El Paso in the Fiscal Year 2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Appropriations bill.

This funding would be used by El Paso County to provide reliable access to public broadband service, via wireless mesh service, to an estimated 3,256 students across Fabens and Tornillo ISDs. The Cotton Valley Connect Project by Digital El Paso is based on a successfully piloted proof-of-concept that was launched by Canutillo ISD in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the importance of broadband access for students, particularity students from low-income families and in rural communities,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “I strongly believe that broadband access is the new electricity, and I am committed to ensuring high-speed internet is available for all El Paso children. I am proud that I was able to get funding for the Cotton Valley Connect Project included in this appropriations legislation, and that we are one step closer to giving the students and families of Fabens and Tornillo the support they need for school learning and to stay connected.” 

“One of the most critical gaps exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic is how deficiencies in broadband connectivity have limited students, teachers, and families in their abilities to succeed in an educational setting. We must ensure that our rural areas have reliable access to the internet.  Furthermore, broadband connectivity is not only essential during the pandemic—we have seen the importance and impact digital platforms can have now and in the future,” said County Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego. “El Paso County is thankful for the hard work of Congresswoman Escobar, as she urges the House Appropriations Committee to provide $2.8 million in funding to make the Cotton Valley Connect Project a reality for an estimated 3,256 students.”   

“The Cotton Valley Connect Project will address the divide that exists in our community,” said Dr. Veronica Vijil, Superintendent of the Fabens Independent School District. “The funds are a huge gain for the students and families of The Fabens Independent School District as these funds will contribute to achieving equity of access to on-line resources and opportunities beyond the classroom walls. We are grateful for the collaborative effort in the realization of the district’s vision to provide broadband access for all. A special thanks to our neighboring superintendents, El Paso County officials, Congresswoman Escobar, and the numerous staff members from all entities who are working together to make this dream a reality.”

“The learning community of Tornillo is beyond appreciative of the collaborative efforts between adjourning district superintendents, Congresswomen Escobar, County Officials, and the numerous individuals who have listened and continue to help us advocate for the much needed access to reliable internet infrastructure in the community,” said Rosy Vega-Barrio, Superintendent of the Tornillo Independent School District. “The Cotton Valley Connect Project will provide access beyond connectivity to markets around the world, higher education, medical and mental health. Most importantly students of all ages will be able to broaden and connect to learning between school, home, and the world which will yield a healthier and prosperous community.”

The Fiscal Year 2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Appropriations bill will advance to the floor for a vote by the full U.S. House of Representatives later in July. The legislation must pass both chambers of Congress and be signed by President Joe Biden before funds can be distributed.

More information about the Community Project Funding requests to the Appropriations Committee and Congresswoman Escobar submitted requests can be found here.

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