September 27, 2021
Contact: Ashley Short, email@example.com , 217-378-7100 ext. 5059
Housing Authority of Champaign County and Cunningham Township partnered with the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign’s Community Data Clinic, the State of Illinois, and PCs for People to expand Internet and technology access for families. 100 laptops and internet hotspots were distributed to Champaign County residents!
This partnership was made possible through a grant to the University from the Illinois’ Community Data Clinic from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Regional Engagement for Adoption + Digital Equity (READY) program. PCs for People is a national nonprofit organization that recycles donated computers from corporations and nonprofits and then refurbishes those devices for low-income individuals and families.
Over 1.1 million Illinois households lack at-home computer access. Recent reports have revealed that more than a third of Illinoisans can’t cover a basic survival budget, with an estimated 11.9% of the state’s population in 2019 living at or below the poverty line according to the U.S. Census Bureau. East Central Illinois demonstrates even higher than average need among its 331,000 residents, with four counties – Champaign, Vermilion, Ford and Iroquois – flagged as poverty “watch” or “warning” counties by the Heartland Alliance’s Poverty report in 2019. The region’s six-county average for poverty was measured by 2019 census data at 12.1%; while two of the six counties – Champaign and Vermilion – demonstrate particularly high poverty rates of 19.9 and 16.8% of the county populations respectively. Initiatives like the distribution of computers at Oakwood Trace in partnership with the University of Illinois’ Community Data Clinic, PCs for People, and DCEO help to bridge the digital divide for equitable advances in remote learning, work, telemedicine, and other requirements of everyday life.
“Research has shown how uneven economic recovery in Illinois has been since the end of the Great Recession in 2010, with more than a third of Illinois households not earning enough to even cover a basic survival budget,” said Dr. Anita Say Chan, director of the Community Data Clinic at the University of Illinois. “Following COVID, families continue to face challenges because of low wages, sparse savings and the increasing cost of basic household goods and services, including the internet. We at the University of Illinois and the Community Data Clinic are grateful to be part of committed civic partnerships that can help to address the deep need for economic and digital access support for East Central Illinois families.”
Companies and nonprofits who would like to donate multiple computers to PCs for People for refurbishment for future distributions throughout Illinois should go to the PCs for People website at www.pcsforpeople.org/illinois for more information.
“The impact of COVID-19 on our most vulnerable population created a major challenge to work from home or participate in virtual learning. Many of our clients do not have access to the internet or a computer which can drastically impact their child’s ability to learn. Thank you to the Community Data Clinic, DCEO and PCs for People for their continuous effort to help bridge the digital divide,” said Lily Walton, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Champaign County.
“Programs like this are why we do what we do,” said Casey Sorensen, CEO at PCs for People. “The lack of access to digital devices and internet impacts almost every aspect of a person’s life, from healthcare to education to employment. We are proud to work with these partners to serve Illinoisans and be part of the solution for better lives for these individuals.”
Jessica Black with Cunningham Township reflected, “The pandemic has highlighted the inequalities surrounding the digital divide. We’ve heard from so many of our families how they’re sharing a single piece of tech, or dealing with unstable internet connections. We’re living so much of our day to day lives online now and it’s vital to ensure everyone has equitable access to connectivity & technology. Cunningham Township is proud to be a partner in bridging this gap.”
“PCs for People has been a respected partner for over twenty years in efforts to bridge the digital divide. With the pandemic bringing what we have long recognized even more to light in terms of internet access and technology being absolutely essential to increased education and employment opportunity, PCs for People is proud to partner with other organizations who are excited and proactive in addressing this unfortunate disconnect as well”, says Kevin Poe, Managing Director, PCs for People.