Mayor Emanuel Launches Connect Chicago Initiative

  • Connect Chicago
CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a coalition of public and private partners 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.

“By teaching digital skills, we give Chicago a stronger and more dynamic economy,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Connect Chicago will allow us to expand digital skills training throughout the city and benefit residents of all ages in every neighborhood.”

Expanding Digital Access and Training Resources
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 provides computer tutors who help provide access to information resources for adults and youth. The expansion will take 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.

“The Library has made it a priority to provide critical tools and resources for adults to learn digital skills,” said Chicago Public Libraries Commissioner Brian Bannon. “This exciting collaborative approach will allow CPL to serve as an access point to digital skills in every neighborhood, through our 80 locations across the city.”

Local Initiatives Support Corporation
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.

“Through investments in coordination, programs, and innovation, we believe Connect Chicago will expand and sustain a thriving digital ecosystem that unleashes Chicago’s economic potential and improves the lives of its residents,” said Jeff Malehorn, President and CEO of World Business Chicago.

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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