GLEN CARBON – Five-thousand Southern Illinoisans who don’t have a computer will have one soon because of the work of a coalition of nonprofits. Led by PCs for People, the nonprofits received a $1.5 million grant from the Illinois Covid-19 Response Fund to connect underserved residents with computers and broadband in their homes. PCs for People refurbishes donated computers, allowing it to offer complete desktop packages for $20. Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois staff have partnered with PCs for People to distribute computers over the next year by holding drive-through events where residents can pick up their computers.

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“We are honored to be part of this initiative to bridge the digital divide at this time when we depend on computers for education, employment and healthcare,” says Loretta Graham, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois. “I’m especially excited for the girls who now will access learning materials and connect with classmates and friends because they have a computer at home.”

The other organizations involved in the initiative are the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois.

“This is a multi-pronged digital inclusion, workforce development and community equity initiative in the state’s most underserved communities,” says Casey Sorenson, CEO of PCs for People. “The project’s unique approach will result in both immediate emergency impact and a long-term sustainable inclusion presence.”

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To qualify for a computer, a household’s income must be at 200% of poverty level or less or it must receive government assistance. Eligibility information is available at pcsforpeople.org/eligibility.

The PCs for People desktop deal is $20 for a computer with a Windows 10 system, 17-20” monitor, keyboard, power cords and a wireless USB adapter. Wireless internet hotspots also are available for $15 a month and a one-time device purchase of $20 as long as grant funding allows. Laptops may also be available as supply allows. Computers and internet hotspots may be preordered at tinyurl.com/pcsforpeopleil.

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois has connections across the 40 counties it serves. The council is hosting drive-through events where people who have pre-ordered computers pick them up. The list of distribution events scheduled so far is at gsofsi.org/findpcs. Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois and PCs for People plan to distribute the computers over the course of the next year.

Businesses and organizations can support the program by donating their used computer equipment to PCs for People's free, secure recycling service. Visit https://www.pcsforpeople.org/schedule-a-pickup/for more information.

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois serves approximately 9,000 girls and engages 3,500 adult volunteers in 40 counties in Southern Illinois. Adult volunteers and girls in K-12 are welcome. Call 800-345-6858 or email customercare@gsofsi.org. Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois is a not-for-profit organization supported by various United Ways, businesses and individual donors throughout the region.

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