Illinois Connected Communities is a partnership among the Illinois Office of Broadband, the Evanston-based Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, and local philanthropy. The program is designed to engage a first-year cohort of communities through best practice curriculum, expert consultation, and a state grant of up to $15,000. The second cohort includes one school district, two community-based organizations, three local governments, and two county-level organizations:
- City of Carrollton
- City of Waukegan
- Community Builders (Chicago)
- Fairmont City
- Greater Peoria Economic Development Council (Tazewell County)
- Internet Freedom for McHenry County
- North Chicago CUSD 187
- The Center: Resources for Teaching and Learning/Latinx Digital Leaders Now (DLN)
Local philanthropic contributions raised to date will support more than 50 hours of free expert consultation and best-practice curriculum for each of the twelve Illinois Connected Communities. Guidance will include assisting communities to define their technology goals; measuring current levels of broadband access, adoption, and use; and seeking technical assistance and other funds to meet community needs.
By the end of the 12-month program, each Illinois Connected Community will have completed a community-driven, broadband strategic plan that articulates the community's broadband vision and identifies an action plan for progress toward improved broadband access in the areas of community and economic development, education, civic engagement, healthcare, agriculture, and more.