Research Report Empowerment Zones and E-Rate Application Rates
Duncan Chaplin
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This report was prepared for the U.S. Department of Education. The project monitor was Jeffery Rodamar.Any opinions, observations, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Urban Institute.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Executive Summary
The Potential of E-Learning
The E-Rate Program
The EZ Program
Formative Evaluation of the E-Rate Program
Analysis Plan
EZ Data
Appendix A: Why We Did Not Analyze EC Schools
Appendix B: Tables and Figure

Executive Summary

This report analyzes the relationship between two important federal programs—the Universal Service Fund for Schools and Libraries (commonly known as the "E-Rate program"), designed to improve access to the Internet for schools and libraries, and the Empowerment Zone (EZ) program, designed to promote economic development in poor communities. We analyze administrative data that cover the first and second years of the E-Rate program. We find the following patterns in these data:

  • EZ Schools Are Taking Advantage of the E-Rate Program: Schools in EZ communities generally apply for the E-Rate program at a higher rate than similar schools in other communities, even after controlling for poverty and urban location, which determine E-Rate funding eligibility. This pattern also generally holds true for application rates for the different types of services that are covered by the E-Rate program.
  • EZ schools have a high probability of getting E-Rate funds if they apply:All EZ schools that applied for E-Rate received at least some funding in both years 1 and 2 of the program. In comparison, about 98 percent of schools nationwide were funded.
  • EZ Schools continue to apply at relatively high rates for Internal Connections: Districts with EZ schools had high levels of applications for Internal Connections in both program years 1 and 2, even though application rates for these services fell in other districts.


The author would like to thank a number of individuals whose assistance was invaluable to this effort. Jeffery Rodamar, of the Planning and Evaluation Service at the U.S. Department of Education, provided a great deal of important information and overall guidance. Linda Roberts and Carole Wacey, with the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, also assisted greatly in these areas.

Second, this project would not have been possible without the cooperation and assistance of the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company, which provided the administrative data used in this analysis. Similarly, we would like to thank Robert Marshall and William Smith of the U.S. Department of Education for their data identifying schools in Empowerment Zones and the zip codes of Enterprise Communities.

Finally, I would like to thank several of my colleagues at the Urban Institute for their expert assistance and guidance: Kristen Olson, Dulari Tahbildar, Jacqueline Raphael, David Perry, and Michael Puma.

All errors, however, are the responsibility of the author.

Research Areas Education Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Social safety net
Tags Poverty K-12 education Federal urban policies