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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2001

Governor Ryan Signs Telecommunications Rewrite Bill - Announces "Eliminate the Digital Divide" Grants to Community Technology Centers

CHICAGO -- Declaring it one of the most pro-consumer, pro-competition bills ever enacted, Governor George H. Ryan today signed into law House Bill 2900, the re-write of the Telecommunications Article of the Public Utilities Act at a bill signing ceremony in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood.

"It is in our best interests as a state to make sure that the ground rules for the telecommunications industry are fair, flexible and designed to keep all of Illinois moving forward," Governor Ryan said. "House Bill 2900 is one of the most pro-consumer, pro-competition bills passed by any state legislature in the nation."

The current telecommunications act is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2001. This new legislation will sunset in 2005. The bill is designed to protect consumers' rights, improve service and enhance competition in the telecommunications industry.

Components of the Legislation include:

BENEFITS TO CONSUMERS

  • Provides $30 million in funds to eliminate the Digital Divide.
  • Enhances Life-Line and Link-Up enrollment for low-income phone subscribers.
  • Requires Ameritech to offer 3 flat rate packages.
  • Sets in statute Service Quality standards and customer credits for carrier failure to meet standards.
  • Strengthens protections against Slamming, Cramming and Jamming.
  • Provides $90 million in customer refunds for settlement of Ameritech's business reclassification case
  • Requires deployment of advanced services, such as high speed internet, by incumbent carriers to 80% of their customers by 2005, except in rural areas.

ENHANCEMENTS FOR INDUSTRY COMPETITION

  • Increases Commission enforcement authority, including injunctive relief and increased fine levels up to .00825% of a carrier's gross annual intrastate revenues per day (approx. $250,000 for Ameritech, $ 33,000 for Verizon, $2,000 for carriers with less than 35,000 access lines).
  • Provides ICC authority to impose interim tariffs to allow expedited implementation of Orders.
  • Strengthens and codifies certain market-opening provisions and increases enforcement of inter-carrier disputes regarding market opening provisions.

A key component of HB 2900 is an expansion of the "Eliminate the Digital Divide" grant program to $30 million. At today's bill signing, Governor Ryan also announced the first 24 "Eliminate the Digital Divide" grants totaling $1 million to help plan, establish, administer and expand Community Technology Centers (CTCs) to serve residents in many low-income communities in Illinois. A complete list of the 24 grant recipients follows the release.

Casa Central, which is an active member of the Humboldt Park Empowerment Partnership and the site of today's event, will be receiving a State of Illinois "Eliminate the Digital Divide" grant of $49,824 to replace obsolete hardware and software that it now uses in its technology center.

Humboldt Park is one of six communities targeted by Governor Ryan's Illinois Workforce Advantage (IWA) initiative. IWA works closely with community organizations and leaders, local government officials, faith groups and residents to develop the best delivery of state services for that community. IWA held its opening Humboldt Park forum at Casa Central in April, 2001. Over 100 community leaders and state agency representatives attended.

IWA is working with Casa Central, the Near North Neighborhood Network, and other organizations in the community to strengthen youth programs and school-based community learning centers. IWA also is helping to build local capacity to use telecommunications as a tool of individual and community betterment through education and job training.

With the help of state investments, Humboldt Park is making great strides with digital technology. Recently, it placed fourth out of over 125 applicants in a national competition for "digital village" funding sponsored by the Hewlett Packard Foundation.

"Eliminate the Digital Divide" Grant Recipients

  • East St. Louis Action Research Project Univ. of IL at Urbana-Champaign, East St. Louis - $49,951
    The East St. Louis Action Research Project (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) proposes to provide Internet access to 12 CTCs in the East St. Louis and surrounding area (i.e., Brooklyn, Alorton, Washington Park and Centerville). ESLARP will first establish broad band Internet point-of-presence at the East St. Louis Neighborhood Assistance Center (NTAC) through the Illinois Century Network. Networking equipment will then be installed at NTAC and the 12 CTCs, creating access through Prairienet servers in Champaign. Broad band Internet access is expected to spur increased training courses offered through local CTCs.

  • DuSable High School, Chicago - $50,000
    The school will establish a CTC to serve the State Street Corridor and Grand Boulevard communities. The CTC will serve students, parents, local businesses and community residents with programs including basic computer skills, introduction to the Internet, introduction to e-mail, after-school academic support, computer-assisted GED and literacy programs, access to career information and technology workshops.

  • Abraham Lincoln Centre, Chicago - $50,000
    The Centre will open a CTC to serve the Kenwood, Oakland, Grand Boulevard, Douglas and Washington Park areas of Chicago. Grant funds will be used to purchase a site license for an educational and employment software package designed to address academic deficiencies and prepare individuals for GED testing, as well as reading, math, writing and other skills necessary to enter the workforce.

  • West Side Health Authority, Chicago - $50,000
    The Authority will establish a CTC to serve residents, small businesses and other Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) in the Austin neighborhood. The CTC will train community leaders and small businesses to use office applications, recruit volunteers to train other residents, train youths to use computers and the Internet for homework, train CBO staff on Web design, enroll residents in computer-assisted GED training and help residents learn various PC applications and find jobs.

  • Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield - $50,000
    In partnership with the Springfield Housing Authority, the college will operate a mobile CTC, using laptop computers and wireless Internet access. The CTC will serve the entire Springfield School District and will set up at various schools, neighborhood centers, senior centers, organizations and child care facilities. Activities will vary, including basic computer instruction, after school programs, career development/job readiness training, business software and Web design.

  • Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center, Chicago - $50,000
    The Center, which serves the Grand Boulevard neighborhood, will use its grant to purchase PC hardware components, software licenses and tool kits to construct several new PCs and expand its existing CTC. Adults participating in certification training will construct the PCs and will learn how to install, configure and upgrade hardware and software and perform common maintenance and repair tasks.

  • Brothers Keeper's Community Resource Center, Chicago/Cook Co. - $49,990
    The Center will establish a CTC to serve youth and adult ex-offenders being served through its three residential programs, predominantly in the West Pullman area of Chicago and south Cook County. Participants will receive instruction in basic computer skills, including keyboarding, peripherals, common applications, and Internet access,and will have access to career information and job search capabilities through the Internet.

  • Casa Central - Chicago - $49,824
    This existing CTC, which serves the Humbolt and West Town areas of Chicago, will use grant funds to replace obsolete hardware and software. Services are targeted toward Hispanic youths participating in other Casa programs and their parents. Programs include basic computer skills, Internet access, after school programs for youths (homework assistance and special projects), plus classes for parents.

  • Essential Human and Health Services, Inc., Chicago - $46,700
    The organization will establish a CTC as an adjunct to an existing youth mentoring program. It will serve the Chicago Lawn, West Englewood and surrounding neighborhoods largely populated by new immigrants. Training will be provided in such areas as keyboarding, computer peripherals, common applications and Internet access. Participants also will access career information and job search capabilities on the Internet.

  • Sullivan House, Chicago - $45,660
    Sullivan House will establish PC workstations in a CTC serving the South Shore area. Two adult groups and two youth groups will receive training twice per week on Windows, word processing, spreadsheets, database entry, Internet use, educational software, homework assistance, Web site design and graphics. Adults also will receive computer-related vocational skills training and career information.

  • Community & Economic Development Assn of Cook Co., Inc., Harvey - $43,500
    CEDA will expand an existing computer training program to become a CTC serving Harvey residents, particularly low-income youths and adults. The CTC will offer training on basic computer software, advanced computer programming, GED training, academic enrichment and job placement. Community residents also will be allowed to use the computers independently.

  • Korean American Community Services, Chicago - $43,400
    A CTC will be established to serve the Irving Park and Albany Park communities, offering public access and classroom instruction in English, Spanish and Korean. Services will be targeted toward Korean and Hispanic immigrants and will include Internet access, basic computer hardware and program instruction, computerized language instruction, Web design and programs for day care kids and after school.

  • Bethel New Life, Inc., Chicago - $42,386
    Grant funds will be used to upgrade the facility and expand operations at the organization's existing CTC, which serves the West Garfield Park neighborhood. Services will include open access to computers and the Internet, short introductory computer courses, training courses in word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software and Internet utilization.

  • Albany Park Community Center, Inc., Chicago - $41,863
    The Center will establish CTCs and upgrade activities at three sites in Albany Park, and serve areas including North Center, Irving Park, Lincoln Square, North Ridge and North Park. Services are targeted toward immigrants with limited English-speaking skills, welfare recipients and unemployed/underemployed youths and adults. Adult services include access to computers and the Internet, career-related information and computerized instruction. After school academic enrichment programs for youths and professional development for teachers also are planned.

  • Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville (SIU-E) - $40,400
    SIU-E will serve as fiscal agent for eight CTCs operating after-school programs in the East St. Louis school district. Grant funds will pay for new computer equipment and installation, upgrading existing equipment and equipment maintenance training. Children will be trained in the use of the Internet and participate in an Internet-based mentoring program. A computer donation program also will be established to enable children to receive computers for home use.

  • Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois, Chicago - $40,000
    Two CTCs will be opened to serve the Pilsen and Near West Side neighborhoods. A partnership between Gads Hill Center, the Westside Employment Center, Prime Cable of Chicago and the U of I, the CTCs will serve both youths and adults by providing computer and Internet access for job search and homework, help with distance learning opportunities and language skills, ACT/SAT preparation, college application assistance, employment skills training and professional development.

  • Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, Chicago - $38,825
    The Council will establish a CTC in a newly renovated building which will serve youths and adults who reside on Chicago's Southwest Side. Training will include classes in typing, Internet, word processing and spreadsheet software. The CTC also will provide general access to computers, Internet and educational software.

  • Greater East St. Louis Community Network Foundation, Centreville - $36,800
    The Foundation will establish a CTC at the St. John Missionary Church Educational Center in Centreville. Among services will be before- and after-school programs; basic computer skills training, including word processing, graphics and scanners; Internet access; software installation and hardware setup; computer-assisted courses in business planning, reading and writing and entrepreneurship training.

  • South Central Community Services, Inc., Chicago - $33,895
    The organization will upgrade computer equipment and increase activities at its computer lab, which serves the Chatham and Avalon areas. In addition to purchasing computers and a video camera, SCCS will expand its services, which are available to all residents, but targeted to participants in the organization's programs. Training is offered in computer basics, academic enrichment, graphic design, video and Internet use.

  • Coalition of African, Asian and Latino Immigrants of Illinois, Chicago - $33,730
    The Coalition will operate two mobile computer labs to provide weekly Internet access to 17 participating agencies, with the Chinese Mutual Aid Association serving as fiscal agent. The CTC will primarily serve the immigrant communities in Pilsen, Logan Square, Uptown, Albany Park, Edgewater and Chinatown communities of Chicago. Services will be provided to clients in their native languages.

  • Onward Neighborhood House, Chicago - $32,666
    Serving the predominantly Hispanic population of the West Town neighborhood, this new CTC will be open to the general public. Services will include general access to computers and the Internet, workshops on common software and use of the Web for job hunting, computerized literacy training and GED preparation, after school programs and professional development for the organization's teachers.

  • Neighborhood Technology Resource Center, Chicago - $31,500
    The center will expand activities at its CTC, located at the Northwest Tower housing development in the West Town community. It provides training to youths and adults through a curriculum that includes after school tutoring, preparation for college entrance exams, leadership development, computerized assessment, career development and job placement, computerized literacy training, computer skills training and advanced network certification instruction and testing.

  • Jobs for Youth/Chicago, Chicago - $26,500
    The organization will expand its pilot CTC to serve youth clients in the Chicago Loop. The expanded CTC will include networked PCs providing general access to computers and the Internet, training on basic computer skills and software applications, access to career-related information on the Web, computer-based instruction in basic literacy and GED preparation and distance learning classes.

  • Atonement Covenant Church, Chicago - $22,410
    In partnership with Double CLIC (a local volunteer organization), the church will establish a CTC to serve the Englewood area. Planned services include workshops on computer concepts, keyboarding, word processing training and Internet access, as well as implementation of a Web design program for youths; workshops teaching spreadsheet and presentation software, computers for beginners and GED test preparation and job placement, certification and welfare-to-work activities.


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