City of Champaign Provides Grants to Help Bridge the Digital Divide

The City of Champaign is pleased to announce the award of more than $16,000 in grants to help six non-profit agencies bridge the digital divide in Champaign. The grants will be used to improve several public computing centers and to provide public education and training opportunities for Champaign’s underserved. 

Jeff Hamilton, Telecommunications/AV Technician for the City of Champaign said, “Individuals lacking access to computers and Internet resources are in jeopardy of getting left behind in today’s technological society. The purpose of these grants is to help keep that from happening.” 

The grant awards were the result of a competitive application process conducted by a committee of City staff and local digital literacy experts. The City used a unique open-ended application process in which local non-profits explained what they needed in order to improve their public computing centers and encourage sustainable use. “Some agencies said they needed new computers, but some just needed fans or new chairs to make their labs more comfortable in order to increase use,” reports Jeff Hamilton. “These agencies knew what they needed and the City helped fulfill that need.” The proposals selected for funding represented the most cost effective ways to encourage sustainable Internet use and improve digital media literacy among Champaign’s underserved populations.

 The local non-profit agencies who received grant awards include:

  • A&O Development Corporation $3000.00
  • Center of Hope Church $2580.00
  • New Hope Academy $3000.00
  • Orpheum Children’s Museum $2995.91
  • St. Luke CME Church $2940.00
  • Tap In Leadership Academy $1689.23

Brian Bell, DCEO Digital Divide Grant Coordinator at Parkland College said, “It’s great to see several organizations come together to bridge the digital divide. Members of our community, supported by anchor institutions and businesses have provided a real and tangible asset to combat access to technology and education. The City of Champaign’s digital divide grant opportunity has set a precedent for collaboration, planning and action.”

Martin Wolske, Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Digital Inclusion at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign adds, “By using an innovative grant process, the City of Champaign distributed the digital divide funds in a way that assures the greatest possible community impact. I look forward to seeing how the funds will be leveraged by the grant award recipients to further grow their programs in 2013 and beyond.”

The funds awarded via this process were digital divide grant funds the City of Champaign received from Comcast as part of the cable franchise renewal in 2011. The grant funds were to be used to help improve computer literacy in Champaign.