man using computer 1290114 1280CHICAGO – State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) is encouraging local businesses and non-profits to apply for newly available Connect Illinois grants to help expand broadband to underserved communities.

“You have to have reliable, affordable internet access to participate in the world we live in today – whether it’s for work, to apply for government assistance, or even to access education or health care,” Villanueva said. “These grants can help make internet more affordable for low-income families who need it to help improve their situations.”

The first round of Connect Illinois grants jumpstarted the process of providing improved access to high-speed internet for approximately 26,000 businesses, households, and other institutions throughout the state.

The second round of Connect Illinois grants will allow for up to $5 million per project and calls for a matching component, which requires companies, non-profits, and local governments that apply to dedicate funding that will accelerate the delivery of broadband investments. 

“Too many people think of broadband internet access as a purely rural issue,” Villanueva said. “It isn’t. Lower-income households – particularly Brown and Black families – in the city and suburbs also struggle to find affordable internet access.”

Funding for the Connect Illinois program is made possible through Rebuild Illinois, the state’s historic $45 billion statewide construction program, which dedicates $420 million to broadband infrastructure.

The application for this round of grants will remain open through February 2021. More information on this grant program can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website.