Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is working to close the city’s device gap. Through a partnership with World Business Chicago, the city is launching Chi Device Donation Month. The month-long campaign encourages Chicago’s business community and large organizations to donate computers and laptops no longer in use to be refurbished and given to families who need a device.

In a press release, the city cited Census data which shows as many as 60,000 Chicago households don’t have a computer at home. The city also noted that through the Chicago Digital Equity Council, 61 percent of participants discussed affordability as a barrier to digital equity, with 29 percent saying that devices are too costly. In a citywide survey of more than 3,000 residents, nearly half of respondents without a device are living in extreme poverty.

“The digital divide disproportionately impacts South and West Side communities and has a severe impact on our youth and students. This is why I am committed to ensuring that every student has a laptop, tablet, or computer at home,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “I am proud to launch Chi Device Donation Month, which will help put these devices into the hands of students and their families, and remove a long-standing barrier to achievement, employment, and helping Chicagoans thrive well into the 21st century.”

To close the device gap, the city has partnered with two non-profits, PCs for People and Compudopt, who accept retired computers and laptops, data-wipe and refurbish them, and provide them to households for free or at a low cost.

“We are honored to stand with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and rally Chicago companies to support the ‘Chi Device Donation Month’ initiative,” said Michael Fassnacht, president and CEO of World Business Chicago, and chief marketing officer of the City of Chicago. “Through the donation of old devices, we can change the lives of our neighbors without access, enabling them to seize educational opportunities, pursue promising careers, and stay connected. Together, we possess a real opportunity to provide tangible and life-changing impact on our fellow residents, fostering an inclusive and interconnected future for all.”

Organizations interested in donating their retired computers can fill out a pledge form and will be contacted by PCs for People or Compudopt to schedule a pickup. Even after the month-long campaign ends, the opportunity to donate computers will be available on an ongoing basis.

The city, through the Chicago Digital Equity Coalition, will also promote opportunities for households to obtain the refurbished devices through community distribution events, giveaways, and more. The city noted that this campaign implements a recommendation in the Digital Equity Plan, Chicago’s citywide plan to close the digital divide.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs