July 17, 2023

Mayor Brandon Johnson Launches Campaign to Close Chicago’s Device Gap

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO — Today, Mayor Brandon Johnson, in partnership with World Business Chicago, announced the launch of a month-long campaign encouraging 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.   

According to Census data, as many as 260,000 Chicago households don’t have a computer at home. Through the Chicago Digital Equity Council, 61% of participants discussed affordability as a barrier to digital equity, with 29% 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.   

To close this 260,000-device gap, the City is partnering 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 a low cost.  

“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.”    

"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 & CEO of World Business Chicago, and Chief Marketing Officer, 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. Following the month-long campaign, the opportunity to donate computers will be available on an on-going 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. This campaign implements a recommendation in the Digital Equity Plan, Chicago’s citywide plan to close the digital divide.  

Interested donors can learn more and make a pledge at chi.gov/DeviceDonation.  

"At Compudopt we believe that digital inclusion lays the foundation for economic mobility and a more equitable future.  Our partnership with the City of Chicago and other partners is a meaningful step toward closing the digital divide. Through the collection, refurbishment, and deployment of donated devices, we are empowering individuals in Chicago to access educational opportunities, job opportunities, and essential services. Together, we are building a brighter future for the City of Chicago," said Megan Steckly, CEO of Compudopt.  

"We are thrilled to partner with Mayor Johnson and World Business Chicago on this vital initiative to support digital inclusion in Chicago. PCs for People's model to distribute low-cost computers to communities in need, while also providing a valuable service to businesses, has been making a difference across the country since 2008. Since then, we have recycled over 13 million pounds of e-waste and distributed over 260,000 computers nationally, including computers to over 4,300 households right here in Chicago. This work is only possible thanks to the savvy businesses who choose to turn their retired devices into opportunities. We look forward to increasing our community and environmental impact in Chicago through this initiative," said Casey Sorensen, CEO, PCs for People.  
For more information on enrolling in free or low-cost internet, accessing affordable devices, and signing up for digital skill building opportunities, visit Chicago.gov/digitalequity and click on Resource Hub.