State funnels cash to tech centers
- By Nicholas Morehead
- Jul 16, 2001
Communities and organizations throughout Illinois are getting more than
$30 million in grant money to help eliminate the digital divide.
The money comes from the state's new telecommunications bill (H.B. 2900),
part of which adds money to the state's Eliminate the Digital Divide program.
The program helps create and administer Community Technology Centers for
residents in low-income communities. Ameritech Corp. is paying for the program
under a condition of its recent merger with SBC Communications Inc.
Under the agreement, Ameritech is to pay $3 million a year for five
years into two digital divide funds administered by the Illinois Department
of Commerce and Community Affairs (www.commerce.state.il.us).
The funds are:
* The Digital Divide Elimination Infrastructure Fund, which will provide
grants to corporations willing to invest in getting high-speed Internet
network connections to underdeveloped areas.
* Another fund, the Program to Foster Elimination of the Digital Divide, will help build the technology centers.
So far, the state has awarded 24 grants totaling $1 million to local
institutions and technology centers.
"People think the digital divide is only economic, but it can be a lot
of things," said Mary Reynolds, Illinois' chief technology officer. "It
can be geographic, in that the [telecommunications companies] won't go there.
It can be from a lack of training, because there are no services available;
it can be because of disabilities; it can be because English is a second
Reynolds said that such a diversity of factors causing a digital divide
is the reason for an equally diverse list of recipients.
DuSable High School in Chicago, for example, will receive $50,000 to
establish a center where students, parents, local workers and community
residents can learn basic computer skills such as how to access the Internet
and e-mail. The money will also be used to create programs for after-school
academic support, computer-assisted GED and literacy programs, career information
and technology workshop programs.
The Brothers Keeper's Community Resource Center in Chicago/Cook County
is getting $49,990 to create a center to help youth and adult ex-offenders
learn basic computer skills, including how to access career information
and perform job searches via the Internet.