State of Illinois Announces $300,000 Public Private Investment to Support Community-Driven Broadband Plans

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband announced the first recipients of the Illinois Connected Communities grant program, created to assist some of the most underserved areas of the state with building broadband capacity.  Through cross-sector collaboration, this new program directs $150,000 in state-funded small grants for 12 community and local government partners to lead the development of strategic plans to ensure access, adoption, and utilization of high-speed broadband in their communities.  The state grants will be paired with $150,000 in philanthropic matching funds. These grants will help lay the groundwork for individual communities to play a part in Gov JB Pritzker's (D-IL) ambitious statewide high-speed internet expansion, Connect Illinois, a $420 million program to bring basic access to all communities by 2024. 

Illinois Connected Communities is a partnership among the Illinois Office of Broadband, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, and local philanthropy. The program is designed to engage a first-year cohort of communities through best practice curriculum, expert consultation, and a state grant of up to $15,000.  

"I was very impressed by the breadth of organizations that applied, the articulation of their challenges, and the passion they exhibited to engage a variety of stakeholders in the Illinois Connected Communities process," said Adrianne B. Furniss, Executive Director of the Benton Institute. "These grants will support our communities to think through broadband strategies and goals that will work best for them, inspire broad community involvement, and engage more stakeholders in building broadband capacity." 

The initial cohort includes the following organizations leading community-wide initiatives:

  • Brown County School District 1
  • City of Harvey
  • Housing Authority of Champaign County
  • Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois
  • Mattoon School District 2
  • McKinley Park Development Council
  • Mercer County Better Together
  • Neighborhood Network Alliance
  • Palatine School District 15
  • Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163
  • Region 1 Planning Council (Winnebago County and City of Rockford)
  • Village of Flanagan


State of Illinois Announces $300,000 Public Private Investment to Support Community-Driven Broadband Plans