Public-Private Education Partners Come Together to Close Chicago’s Digital Divide

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Chicago Connected—a multi-year, public-private partnership to close Chicago’s digital divide and ensure that Chicago Public School (CPS) students have access to the internet and remote learning.  When CPS shifted to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 100,000 CPS students were stranded without internet access and needed to attend classes virtually.

Inspired by the firsthand accounts of parents struggling to get their families connected to remote learning and other essential supports, Kids First Chicago (K1C), in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council, released a report, Digital Equity in Education in the Coronavirus Era, showing the city’s widespread connectivity gaps and calling upon Chicago leaders to act. 

Kids First Chicago’s report found that roughly 1 in 5 primarily Black or Latinx/a/o children under the age of eighteen lack access to in-home broadband. At the request of the Mayor’s Office, Kids First Chicago developed a proposal to operationalize a key recommendation from its report—creating a community-based, sponsored internet service program, which includes:

• CPS will provide outreach to all eligible families based on student- and household-level indicators. Families will sign up directly with internet service providers (ISP) using a unique code provided by CPS. 

• Participating community-based organizations (CBOs) will supplement CPS outreach with a particular focus on the hardest-to-reach households.
Additionally, CBOs will provide newly-connected families with digital literacy training and skills development curriculum using content provided to them by Chicago Public Library (CPL) and the ISPs. 

More information is available at

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