broadband 052820CHAMPAIGN – To support the many Illinoisans working and learning from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is pleased to announce the Housing Authority of Champaign County has been selected to receive a state grant funding broadband advancements across the community.

“This pandemic has served as a reminder to residents just how crucial broadband access is,” Bennett said. “Many rural areas lack high-speed internet service, but this grant will enhance broadband accessibility and ensure those communities can stay connected.”

The Housing Authority of Champaign is one of 12 organizations to receive a grant from the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity through the Illinois Connected Communities program, created to help build broadband capacity in underserved areas.

In addition to an award of up to $15,000, the 12-month program provides free expert consultation to enable each Illinois Connected Community to complete a plan for expanding broadband that identifies actions to improve internet access in the areas of community and economic development, education, civic engagement, healthcare, agriculture, and more.

The program directs $150,000 in state-funded small grants for community and local government partners to help improve access to high-speed broadband in their communities. The state grants will be matched by $150,000 in philanthropic funds.

These grants will help lay the groundwork for individual communities to play a part in Connect Illinois, a $420 million program to bring basic internet access to all communities by 2024. Connect Illinois contemplates a second round of grants later this year.