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Chicago Provides Free High-Speed Internet Access to Over 100,000 CPS Students

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced the launch of ‘Chicago Connected,’ a groundbreaking program that will provide free high-speed internet service to approximately 100,000 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students in their households. This first-of-its-kind program will be one of the largest and longest-term efforts in the nation to provide free, high-speed internet over the course of four years to dramatically increase internet accessibility for students and help build a permanent public support system for families in Chicago. 

“Reliable, high-speed internet is one of the most powerful equalizers when it comes to accessing information,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “It allows families to access digital remote learning and stay connected to family near and far, especially during COVID-19. It allows families to build career skills, apply for jobs, register to vote, and stay up-to-date on current events. This program is a critical component of our STEP agenda and the efforts to end poverty and a part of our mission to drive improved academic outcomes at CPS.”

Providing Reliable High-Speed Internet Access to Students Who Need it Most

According to Census data, an estimated 100,000 students lack access to high-speed internet in Chicago, which is defined as 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload by the Federal Communications Commission. ‘Chicago Connected’ will provide high-speed internet for households for four years by directly paying for internet service for families that are most in need, using six priority indicators and data from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to identify eligible households for the initiative. Priority indicators include students eligible for free lunch, students identified as having special needs, students experiencing homelessness and students living in communities with the highest hardship based on the UIC hardship index. Further, Chicago Connected will prioritize students who are enrolled in summer school who are also eligible for the program.

‘Chicago Connected’ will begin outreach to families next week with the goal of connecting as many of the 100,000 students as possible prior to the 2020-21 school year.  While Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools remain committed to making every possible effort to get students back in the classroom this fall, what next school year looks like and how many students will be able to return is dependent on the trajectory of the virus and guidance from state and local health officials.

Groundbreaking Initiative Made Possible by Generous Support from the Philanthropic Community - Michelle and I want every kid in Chicago to grow up knowing even better opportunities than we had – and that requires full and equitable access to the best tools and resources. We’re happy to help Chicago Connected reach every kid in the city. This is where I found a purpose and a family – and it’ll always be our home.” – President Barack Obama

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