Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Receives Broadband Grant

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced the second cohort of the Regional Engagement for Adoption and Digital Equity (READY) program, with five regional entities selected to receive a total $250,000 to support planning, research and data. collecting as they strive to bridge the digital divide.

Among these entities was Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, which received the grant for the Southwest Illinois region, one of five institutions with regional ties to conduct equity research and outreach. digital. SIUE received $50,000 to conduct its research.

Other programs included Bloomington-Normal EDC, Chicago State University, Northern Illinois University, and Western Illinois University.

The Broadband READY grants are intended to empower regions to explore opportunities for equitable progress in broadband access, adoption and use, the state wrote in a press release. . Each grantee will create deliverables that will provide a comprehensive assessment of the broadband landscape in their respective region, which will guide program integration and investment of resources to address broadband equity and inclusion gaps .

“Our Connect Illinois program has focused on the role communities can play in realizing their visions of better broadband,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Through our Broadband READY program, statewide broadband community and regional planning is off to a good start in Illinois. I am grateful that our READY participants are working to ensure that community and regional perspectives across the state are part of our broadband expansion and digital equity efforts.”

Broadband READY is designed to identify current digital inequalities as well as next steps in building a digital inclusion ecosystem through regional collaboration between community and economic development organizations, educators, local leaders and others related stakeholders. It seeks to provide scalable solutions for broadband usage throughout Illinois.

“SIUE is a leader in our community on many fronts, so it’s fitting that the university leads broadband expansion opportunities in the metro area,” said Illinois State Senator Rachelle Crowe. , D-Glen Carbon, in a statement. “Broadband READY funding will support research, planning and coordination efforts as we move forward on our mission to ensure that every home in the state has access to the 21st century economy.”

The Broadband READY program is part of a comprehensive digital equity package announced by Governor Pritzker in 2020 to increase broadband capacity while closing existing broadband equity gaps, the administration said. . The READY program and other investments to improve community planning and equitable implementation complement the Governor’s ambitious Connect Illinois program, a $400 million plan to provide universal access to high-speed Internet in the whole state.

“Developing regional and community-based approaches to equitably bridge the digital divide is critical to the success of our Connect Illinois broadband expansion program,” DCEO Director Sylvia I. Garcia said in a statement. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, our state is deploying resources to engage regional partners throughout Illinois to bring greater broadband access to those who need it most.”

With the four participants in the first cohort, the Broadband READY program is actively engaging in regional planning across the state for statewide broadband expansion and programming. digital equity.

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