Today the Mayor announced alongside non-profit Connect 2 Compete that Chicago will serve as the first pilot city for EveryoneOn, a national campaign that aims to increase digital literacy and access to fast and cheap Internet—both essential to thrive in a modern economy and the jobs of tomorrow.
The initiative will connect more than 1.1 million Chicagoans with low-cost internet and bring vital connectivity to more residents in zip codes where the median income is $35,000 or less. Connect2Compete builds on the existing Comcast Internet Essentials initiative that Mayor Emanuel announced in 2011, which brought low-cost, high-speed Internet to more 11,000 families across Chicago. This map of broadband usage in Chicago in 2011 demonstrates why it’s important to continue to find effective new ways to close the divide.
“Digital skills are 21st century workforce skills, making digital literacy training and affordable access to high-speed Internet service game changers for children and adults,” said Mayor Emanuel. “From day one we have worked to increase internet connectivity and knowledge for our residents, especially in neighborhoods that have traditionally been underserved.”
Chicago is no rookie when it comes to addressing the digital divide. In addition to the success of Comcast’s Internet Essentials partnership, Chicago has leveraged federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program funding and other resources to:
- Establish free Wi-Fi at 28 public computer center sites and upgraded free Wi-Fi at 66 Chicago Public Library branches;
- Provide over 180,000 hours of instructor-led technology training to 29,300 Chicagoans citywide;
- Help at least 570 Chicagoans find jobs through 180,000 one-on-one CyberNavigator assistance sessions at the libraries;
- Deliver technology training to over 1,000 small businesses;
- Provide out-of-school digital media programming to 1,350 youth;
- Establish the Connect Chicago network to bring together over 250 locations that offer free digital skills training throughout the City; and
- Install over 1,400 computer stations at 170 public computer centers citywide, located in CHA facilities, CCC campuses, community centers, libraries and Veterans Resource Centers.