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DE Capacity Kickstarter

The Digital Equity Capacity Kickstarter program represents an integral and strategic component of the State of Illinois’s Connect Illinois vision and commitment to broadband access, adoption, and use – all through the lens of digital equity and inclusion. The program will serve as a bridge to forthcoming federal Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program funding per the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The Capacity Kickstarter program complements other State funding opportunities, such as the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant Program. Administered by the Illinois Office of Broadband (IOB), Connect Illinois invests in new broadband infrastructure to spur advances in broadband access, adoption, and use. Supporting digital skill building, broadband adoption and use, and device access through the Capacity Kickstarter program contributes to the Connect Illinois vision.

Applications should cover one or more of the following categories focused on access, adoption, and use:

Outreach and Adoption

  • Facilitate awareness of and enrollment in low-cost broadband programs, such as the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Related activities may included:
    • Conducting outreach to community members;
    • Supporting enrollment in ACP and other low-cost broadband offerings; and
    • Complementing initiatives funded by the FCC ACP Outreach Grant.

Digital Skill Building, Navigation and Use

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for community members seeking guidance and support around digital literacy, digital skills building, device access, and home broadband needs;
  • Provide advice, assistance, and tech support to community members on the use of digital tools and platforms, including but not limited to, email, word processing software, tele-healthcare, remote learning, job applications, social media, and general web use; and
  • Coach, train, and guide residents individually or in group settings on how to use their home internet service and devices to meet their day-to-day needs and achieve their goals.

Community Technology Center Access

  • Establish, administer and expand Community Technology Centers (CTCs) and support basic computer literacy training programs through these centers; and
  • Provide access to computers, internet connectivity, and related training to Illinois communities with demonstrable need.

Access Expansion Feasibility

  • Identify and advance a community’s broadband access vision and goals;
  • Evaluate market options, consumer demand, and stakeholder alignment;
  • Engage internet service providers and build public sector leadership; and
  • Consider next steps for public-private partnership, grant funding, etc. to increase broadband access and connectivity.

Watch here for updates on the forthcoming notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).