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Mayor’s Initiative Will Make Digital Skills Training Available at Nearly All Chicago Public Libraries

Mayor Emanuel Launches Connect Chicago Initiative to Help Close the Digital Divide in Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a coalition of public and private partners today launched Connect Chicago — a civic leadership initiative to make Chicago the most skilled and connected digital city in America. Connect Chicago will expand digital skills training throughout the city, and to nearly all Chicago Public Library locations.

Connect Chicago will expand digital access and training resources across the city by expanding evidence-based programs in partnership with trusted institutions with a history of serving low-income Chicagoans. Initial investments announced today include the citywide expansion the Chicago Public Library’s CyberNavigator program, which has been supported by the Chicago Public Library Foundation since 1998 to provide computer tutors who help provide access to information resources for adults and youth. The expansion through Connect Chicago will build on this support by increasing CyberNavigators from 48 public library branches to nearly all of the 80 branches across the city, creating an additional 350-400 new training hours per week across Chicago.

Connect Chicago will also fund the integration of digital skills training into Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago Financial Opportunity Centers’ programming. Under this investment, LISC Chicago projects to train 1,000 more residents in digital skills during 2016 – 50 percent more than their current capacity. In 2011, LISC Chicago found that patrons who participated in digital skill training alongside other support services at financial opportunity centers were 50 percent more likely to get a job than those that didn’t.

Connect Chicago is the next chapter in Chicago’s commitment to digital access and skills. It is rooted in two recent citywide plans created under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership: the City of Chicago Tech Plan as well as World Business Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth & Jobs…

Connect Chicago brings together the public and private sectors to focus on neighborhood economic development. Private sector partners include Cisco, Clarity Partners, Comcast, Get IN Chicago, Gogo, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility Foundation, The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute, and Sprint. Over the next three years, Connect Chicago aims to raise at least $10 million to strengthen Chicago’s digital foundations and expand this network of programming….

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