Gates Library Initiative: Opportunity Online Hardware Grant Program
The New York State Library participated in a Bill & Melinda Gates Library Foundation program entitled the Opportunity Online Hardware Grant Program. The State Library worked in partnership with PULISDO to implement this program. This program provided 2,145 computers for a maximum of 421 New York State public libraries, for a value of approximately $6.1 million.
Purpose of the Program
The Opportunity Online Hardware Grant Program was designed to help public libraries upgrade hardware and learn how to sustain these upgrades over time. The program focused on libraries that serve high need communities that are struggling to keep pace with technology changes. The program also sought to motivate local governments to commit long-term local funding to computer services in public libraries.
The two-year grant program funded public computer workstations, and associated training and tech support. It required dedicated local funding through a monitored and enforced escalating matching requirement (25% for the first year and 50% for year two).
The Gates Foundation determined eligibility for each participating library. Libraries had to meet two criteria to receive funding:
- Economic Need: Eligible public libraries serve communities where 10% of the total population or more than 3,000 people in each library service area live in poverty. Each public library was designated as either rural, urban, or suburban, which defined their service area radius.
- Hardware Need: Eligible public libraries demonstrated that their computer and internet services are vulnerable to becoming obsolete. Libraries ran a TechAtlas computer inventory report to assess their hardware vulnerability.
Background Information (from Gates Foundation; in .PDF format)
Opportunity Online Hardware Grant Program