“When it comes to opportunity in America, digital equity reminds me of the tail of two cities - the haves and the have nots… this divide is now centered in a spotlight because of COVID-19, with issues relating to poverty, healthcare, education, and economic opportunity.” 

-Lt. Governor Julianna Stratton, June 3, 2020

Illinois Extension’s Community and Economic Development program has partnered with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Illinois Office of Broadband, and the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, in outreach aimed to extend critical high-speed internet access across the state.

To educate potential applicants on Connect Illinois, the nation’s largest competitive matching grant program, the Illinois Office of Broadband has been using our Local Government Education platform to announce funding opportunities, and interact with potential grantees and awardees to build a most robust approach in educational outreach, digital inclusion, community planning, and infrastructure initiatives. Our educational programs, in partnership with both the Illinois Office of Broadband and the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, also includes smaller grantee sessions on adoption and use, strategic planning, access, service assessments and community demand, broadband technology, feasibility studies, and project development. 

To date, the webinars have garnered 1284 participants and 1334 recording views. We have featured two additional funding opportunities, Illinois Connected Communities and Connect Illinois Round 2.  We have hosted 8 community planning sessions for the initial Illinois Connected Communities awardees, which consist of four school districts, two community-based organizations, two local governments, two county-level organizations, and two economic development organizations. We have hosted additional informational webinars on Digital Equity Grants and the Digital Navigator Program. We are geared up to host more grant cohort sessions in Spring 2021, as well as webinars to support applicants for additional rounds for both the Connect Illinois infrastructure grants and the Illinois Connected Communities grants.  

Upcoming Sessions

To be announced shortly...