Local News

NIU awarded $50K from Pritzker administration to address digital divide in education

Northern Illinois University, large red NIU sign outside the Holmes Student Center in DeKalb, IL on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Northern Illinois University was awarded $50,000 in state grant money to help access digital inequities and access to technology in communities.

According to a news release, Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced the second round of the Regional Engagement for Adoption and Digital Equity (READY) program.

The recent round of giving identified five regional educational institutions who were given a total of $250,000 to support planning, research and data collection for addressing digital divides.

Among the other recipients of the Broadband READY program include Western Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University and Bloomington-Normal EDC. All five institutions will receive $50,000 from the $250,000 grant.

The Broadband READY grants help provide funding for institutions to better identify areas of need in their communities where access to technology might be a barrier to equal opportunity, according to a news release. The funding is also meant to help the institutions find and fund resources to address those inequities, including implementing community collaborations with other relevant local leaders and organizations.

The Broadband READY program is a part of a Digital Equity Package announced by Pritzker in 2020 to boost broadband capacity while addressing existing broadband equity gaps, according to the release. The READY program and other investments intend to enhance community planning and equitable implementation to complement the governor’s Connect Illinois program, a $400 million plan to deliver universal access to high-speed internet statewide.