Illinois pushes for digital equity with new broadband investments; Office of Broadband announces 3 programs to address digital divide – Quad City Times

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RAYMON TRONCOSO
Capitol News Illinois |
Report For America

SPRINGFIELD — The governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity are awarding $500,000 through existing and new state programs as part of a “Digital Equity Package.”

The Illinois Office of Broadband, which is based in the DCEO, is spearheading the targeted investment program. The package gives modest grants to community-based and regional actors to address gaps in household access to computing devices, hotspot connectivity and digital literacy skills.

While Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has also launched the $400 million Connect Illinois program — funded through 2019’s Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure program — with the goal of expanding broadband capacity statewide by 2024, these significantly smaller grants are aimed at addressing inequalities and gaps in coverage that may not be solved simply by the growth of the state’s broadband network.

“High speed broadband internet is an absolute necessity for economic progress and educational attainment, but too many of our towns and counties and communities have been left out of the digital revolution, especially downstate,” Pritzker said in a release. “It’s time for that to change. To accomplish our goals, we need resources and expertise.”

The digital equity investment is split between three programs using $500,000 in state dollars alongside $250,000 in non-state funds.

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November 18, 2020 at 08:49PM

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