Program Is Part of the County’s Project Rainbow to Address Learning Loss Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic
(Forest Park, IL)—Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) today announced it has partnered with PCs for People to provide free or low-cost computers to children in suburban Cook County. The partnership – created under Cook County Government’s Project Rainbow – will kick off Saturday, October 23, at 11 a.m. at River Oaks Mall in Calumet City, where up to 100 computers will be awarded.
PCs for People is a non-profit organization that provides rebuilt computers and laptops to historically underserved communities. The Saturday event will be held in conjunction with a CCDPH vaccination drive outside of River Oaks Mall; vaccination is not required as a condition of eligibility.
“Children have suffered greatly through this pandemic and we must make sure all of our youth in the county have the ability to learn without barriers,” said County President Toni Preckwinkle. “Getting computers in front of children who need them – to learn, to be creative, to encourage curiosity – is enormously important, so we thank PCs for People for their work and partnership with Cook County.”
Individuals and families enrolled in SNAP, EBT or Medicaid or who are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the program. Residents can check eligibility criteria and register for a computer here.” Citizenship or immigration status will not be checked in the process.
“Project Rainbow helps children recover from the loss of learning experienced throughout the pandemic. PCs for People are giving our children the chance to do one better – looking to the future and moving forward,” said Israel Rocha, the CEO of Cook County Health.
The event is co-located with a four-day vaccination event by CCDPH at the River Oaks Mall, as part of the department’s hyperlocal strategy. In order to increase uptake in towns with lower vaccination rates, CCDPH is employing the 40-foot-long M1 vehicle, conducting door-to-door canvassing events, and calling and texting nearby residents to these Priority Events in the lowest vaccinated suburbs of Cook County.
“Public Health is not just ‘an apple a day’ and quitting smoking – it is addressing the root causes of inequality, opportunity, and access that create an uneven playing field,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer of CCDPH. “We must close the digital divide; giving children new opportunities and knocking down barriers leads to healthier lives. We are excited for this event and this partnership with PCs for People.”
This month the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to allow county offices to donate used computers to PCs for People.
“Getting these computers refurbished and sent to folks who need them is a great way to keep them out of the landfill, which is much better for the environment,” said Cook County Chief Information Officer Tom Lynch.
About Project Rainbow
Project Rainbow is a new initiative that Cook County has launched to address learning loss magnified by COVID-19 with creation of free early childhood and family programming through the County TV station and a new mobile app. Through this initiative, Cook County and its Project Rainbow partners will produce new video content, or repurpose existing informative and educational content, to be used by children and families. To broaden the scope of the initiative’s possibilities, future Cook County initiatives and programming involving children, families, or the arts will now be recognized by the County as Project Rainbow initiatives.
About PCs for People
PCs for People refurbishes desktop and laptop computers for distribution to eligible recipients. Every desktop includes a mouse, a keyboard, power cords and monitor cords at no additional cost. Monitors, accessories, hardware upgrades and additional software (such as licensed Microsoft Office) are available for an additional fee. Computers are available for a donation from our stores or can be purchased online at www.pcsrefurbished.com.
In addition to computers, PCs for People offers high speed 4G LTE internet service for as low as $15 per month. Plans are prepaid with no credit check or hidden fees. An internet service purchase includes necessary equipment, service (various plans available), and unlimited 4G LTE service.
Funding for PCs for People’s computer distribution comes in part from the Universal Telephone Assistance Corporation (UTAC), also known as Illinois Internet Connect Program. Illinois Internet Connect Program is a not-for-profit corporation, created by Illinois law and governed by a volunteer board of directors that includes local telephone companies, the Low Income Utility Advocacy Project, Citizens Utility Board, the Woodstock Institute, and the Office of the Attorney General. The principal purpose of the Illinois Internet Connect Program is to oversee the Universal Telephone Service Assistance Program (UTSAP) in Illinois, which provides assistance towards the cost of telephone or broadband service for eligible low-income people in Illinois. UTAC also supports the distribution of affordable computers and other electronic devices for eligible people and families as it furthers its mission by ensuring better access to broadband for everyone in Illinois, regardless of whether they can afford it. Illinois Internet Connect Program is funded through voluntary contributions by individuals and through a bill checkoff program through Illinois local telephone companies.