broadband kids 120320DANVILLE – To expand broadband service in rural communities lacking access, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging local businesses and nonprofits to apply for the second round of Connect Illinois grants.

“Throughout this pandemic we have learned that broadband access is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” Bennett said. “In order for people living in rural communities to work remotely and for students to learn virtually, it’s critical that organizations serving these areas apply for funding to help overcome the limitations they are currently facing.”

The second round of Connect Illinois grants will award up to $5 million per project and calls for a nonstate matching component, which requires applicants to dedicate funding that will accelerate the delivery of broadband investments. Internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits and local governments are eligible to apply.

Funding for the Connect Illinois program is made possible through Rebuild Illinois, the state’s historic, bipartisan $45 billion statewide construction program, which has dedicated $420 million to broadband infrastructure.

Applications can be found under “Grant Opportunities” at and will remain open through March 1, 2021.

firefighter fire gear2CHAMPAIGN – To help fire departments, fire protection districts and township fire departments afford the tools and equipment they need, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging eligible applicants to submit an application to the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s (OSFM) Small Equipment Grant Program.

“Firefighters and first responders have been on the front lines during this pandemic, and it’s our job to ensure they have the equipment needed to stay safe,” Bennett said. “I encourage departments to take advantage of this grant opportunity so they can purchase new firefighting and ambulance equipment.”

The program awards grants of up to $26,000 for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment. OSFM will award a total of $3.3 million to eligible fire departments and ambulance services through the program.

Across the state, many fire departments and not-for-profit ambulance services struggle to generate the necessary revenue to purchase small equipment, such as air-packs and portable radios.

Eligible applicants are required to have participated in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) for a minimum of two years prior to applying. Due to NFIRS undergoing updates, the OSFM will require departments to be current through June 2020 for this grant period.

Applications must be postmarked no later than Jan. 29, 2021. Additional information including the application can be found on the State Fire Marshal’s website.

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DANVILLE – To provide every Illinoisan fair and equal access to the internet, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging organizations in rural areas to apply for $50 million in available funding through the second round of the Connect Illinois broadband expansion program.

“Access to a high-speed internet connection is essential for people’s ability to work, learn and carry out business,” Bennett said. “Rural residents deserve a better approach to broadband—I encourage eligible applicants to apply for this next round of grants.” 

The second round of Connect Illinois grants will allow for up to $5 million per project and calls for a matching component, which requires companies to dedicate funding that will accelerate the delivery of broadband investments. Internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits and local governments are eligible to apply.

Residents across Vermilion County experience slower-than-average internet speeds: In Tilton and Westville, connection speeds are nearly one-third slower than the state average, and in Catlin and Rantoul, downloads take about twice as long.

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pexels pixabay 159579CHAMPAIGN — To put working parents at ease as they prepare to return to the workplace, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging child care providers who have faced financial struggles due to COVID-19 to apply for the next round of the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program.

“For many families, no child care means they do not have the ability to work,” Bennett said. “Supporting our child care providers will help address the needs of parents that are returning to their jobs outside the home, and that’s why I am encouraging all providers affected by the COVID-19 crisis to seek financial assistance through this grant opportunity.” 

More than $150 million was awarded to 4,686 child care providers across 95 counties during the first round of BIG funding earmarked for child care. Nearly half these funds went to providers in areas disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Child care facilities have continued to face financial hardships in recent months, leading the state to open a second round of BIG grants specifically for child care providers. In this second wave of funding, $114 million will be available for child care centers and family child care homes that are licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services and are currently open.

Applications for Child Care Restoration Grants are available until Oct. 15 and can be found here.

All other businesses can apply for BIG grants here.

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