The E-mpa annual fall meeting was anything but typical this week. I’ve attended the in-person events in years past, but in-step with ‘2020’, the meeting proved that regardless of the pandemic, this professional group was united, and came together for a common cause of strengthening the E-rate program and to advocate for program changes. In spite of the impact that COVID-19 on traveling, the meeting had a higher participation rate than any in-person meeting to date, with nearly 100 members joining the conference. The camaraderie amongst the E-rate Management Professionals was evident, and the meeting provided a platform to discuss a variety of issues facing the clients we represent as an organization, as well as the E-rate program itself. I believe it was possibly the highest number of CEMPs congregated at once (albeit via Zoom) and it was a huge success!
 
The value of the group was very evident when common concerns were expressed to the FCC and USAC about the granularity being applied by PIA in comparison to Form 470 detail lines,  and members of the group collaborated to clearly articulate the struggles that applicants are facing. This was a very effective use of time, and it was refreshing to have USAC acknowledge the situation, and that the discussions in the annual E-mpa meeting brought these issues to the surface with the program administrators.
 
 
It’s a privilege to be included in this group, and I look forward to participating in future E-rate Management Professionals Association meetings. Being a member offers the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals who adhere to a strict code of ethics to support all program stakeholders and are dedicated to helping the E-rate program succeed, improve, and simplify. By working cooperatively with program administrators, E-mpa members help improve funding opportunities for schools and libraries, who need the support of the E-rate program now more than ever.