State officials this week touted a program that is worthy of support. We encourage businesses, organizations and individuals to get behind The Computer Equity Network.

Capitol News Illinois described it as a collaboration between the state, the nonprofit PCs for People, municipal governments and private businesses. The program is tied to the ongoing Connect Illinois initiative based out of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that seeks to expand broadband access in the state.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the program during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

“One of the largest gaps made even more significant in this pandemic is the digital divide,” Pritzker said. “How can your child learn from home if you don’t have internet access? How can you shop for groceries safely online if you don’t have a computer? Accessing the digital world has become essential for students, for small business owners, for patient-doctor communications, for job applications. Really there’s no realm in which connecting online hasn’t become absolutely necessary in the modern era.”

DCEO estimates that out of 4.9 million Illinois households, more than 1.1 million currently lack computer access in their home.

Computer access has long been a crucial part of our daily lives. It’s even more crucial today during a pandemic that has forced isolation in so many ways. We applaud the state for seeking ways to provide access for everyone to computers and broadband.

Here’s how you can help:

If you are upgrading equipment, donate your old technology to the Equity Network. PCs For People will upgrade it and give it to a family in need.

According to DCEO Director Erin Guthrie, the Equity Network will host community hand-off events in all 102 Illinois counties to give away the upgraded devices to eligible families. The events will also feature on-site support from DCEO to provide digital literacy courses and options for accessing low-cost internet services.

People interested in receiving a computer or donating equipment can visit Illinois.gov/ComputerEquityNetwork for more information.

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