Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network

Through a first-of-its-kind collaboration among the Illinois Office of Broadband, PCs for People, Cook County, and various community partners, Illinois has launched the Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network, a  statewide network that will receive, refurbish and redistribute used computers for those in need. Over 1.1 million Illinois households lack at-home computer access and this initiative aims to help bridge the digital divide for equitable advances in remote learning, work from home, telemedicine, and other requirements of everyday life.

The Computer Equity Network seeks to build concerted cross-sector collaboration to source used computers and distribute them to families in need – through a standardized process for refurbishment, distribution, and impact tracking. The goal is simple: to put upgraded devices into the homes of as many qualifying Illinois families as possible through regular community distribution events across the state.

To determine eligibility, please review the FAQ below. To check for a distribution event near you, please view the below list of upcoming community events below. This list will be updated on a regular basis as additional events are scheduled across the state.

To source the network with newly refurbished computer devices, the State of Illinois is working with private and philanthropic partners to build a pipeline for Illinois households in need. For those interested in donating or joining the network more information can be found below.

 

JOIN THE COMPUTER EQUITY NETWORK

To maximize impact, the statewide collaboration relies upon the capacity and contributions from computer refurbishing organizations across the state. The following organizations have joined this effort:

PCs for People 

As one of the members of this network, PCs for People will help coordinate community distribution events across the state.  PCs for People is not an approved vendor of the State, but part of this collaboration to create the Computer Equity Network. 

The Office of Broadband and Computer Equity Network will work to add any additional groups to the list of resources and network in order to reach as many residents in need of a personal computer as possible and raise awareness and equipment to meet digital needs. 

For companies or non-profits interested in joining the Computer Equity Network, please contact broadband@illinois.gov.

 

FAQ | FOR DISTRIBUTION OF DEVICES:

Who is this program for?

Qualified Illinois households without access to a working computer or those seeking to donate are encouraged to contact the Computer Equity Network organization of their choice.  

To be eligible, residents must be below 200 percent of the poverty level or enrolled in income-based government assistance programs, such as free or reduced school lunch, Medicaid or SNAP. 

How do I apply to receive a free computer?

Residents seeking a newly refurbished computer should take the following steps:

Find a community distribution event near you – and click the location to register, or go to the registration page here.

To apply, residents must produce proof of eligibility at the time of applying, including documentation of income-based government assistance. For more details please refer to eligibility guidelines here.

Wait for your application to be reviewed. Once approved for pick up at an event, you can collect your new computer/device. Plan to have proof of eligibility on hand. All community distribution events will observe COVID-19 health guidelines. 

How do I find a community event near me?

Find a community distribution event near you – and click the location to register, or go to the registration page here. Events will be scheduled throughout 2021, with at least one in every Illinois county. Don't see an event near you just yet? Check back for more information or sign up to hear when an event is planned near you here. 

What if I cannot make it to one of the community events?

Newly refurbished devices can be purchased on PCs for People's online store. Products are available based on supply at low-moderate costs. Customers must show proof of eligibility at the time of purchase. 

When can I expect to receive my equipment?

The Computer Equity Network organization that sent notice that your application was granted will contact you and then will distribute computers to eligible households from community distribution events scheduled in counties across the state. 

What should I expect to receive on my device?

Computers will have licensed copies of Microsoft Windows 10 loaded.

Monitors, accessories, hardware upgrades and additional software (such as licensed Microsoft Office) are available for an additional fee.

 

FAQ | FOR DONATIONS:

How do I donate my computer or laptop?

To donate to the Computer Equity Network, please bring used computers and devices to any of the upcoming community events, or to one of these two statewide distribution centers and we will update this list if additional sites become available:

  • Metro East | PCs for People Warehouse + Community Space
    100 Florida Avenue, Belleville, IL 62221
    Monday – Friday from 10:00 A.M. – to 4:00 P.M.
     
  • Chicagoland | PCs for People Warehouse (drop offs by appointment)
    15900 S. Cicero Avenue, Oak Forest, Illinois 60452      

For corporate donations or those totaling 15 units or more, please schedule a free pick up here.

 

What types of donated computer equipment will be accepted?

You may donate any and all used computer equipment, and the Computer Equity Network organization will redistribute what it can refurbish and recycle what it cannot refurbish. There are a limited number of items that are not accepted including home appliances, lightbulbs and hazardous materials.

 

What's the process for refurbishing equipment and protecting information?

Computer Equity Network refurbishers are NAID AAA and R2 certified, requiring the non-for-profit to practice the highest standards of information destruction, hard drive sanitization, and environmental computer device recycling along with a zero-landfill policy.

 

Is my donation eligible for a tax reduction?

You will be provided a receipt that contains the not-for-profit organization tax ID number and the IRS code for a tax deduction for property donated to a charitable organization under applicable rules and regulations.

 

Which partners have contributed so far?

Several philanthropic organizations have stepped up to partner, including the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, the Jewish United Fund, the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. Computer Equity Network organizations are in contact with several large corporations which have expressed an interest in donating to the collaborative effort.

 

What do I do if my organization would like to host an event?

PCs for People will support the state in coordinating public/private partnership and events. Visit the PCs for People webpage to fill out a form to host an event (just above the FAQ section).