Illinois Broadband Initiative

Partnership Overview

Since 2016, EducationSuperHighway has partnered with the State of Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Education and Learning Technology Center to enable high-speed Internet in every classroom in Illinois so that all students can take advantage of the promise of digital learning.

Eligibility & Process

E-rate Category 1: Any district that lacks scalable infrastructure can participate in a fiber project. This engagement begins with building a plan to upgrade your network based on your district’s unique circumstances and provider options. EducationSuperHighway can help you build a case for funding so that all stakeholders understand the budget needed for your upgrade. Next, EducationSuperHighway assists in selecting the best provider during the RFP process and ultimately in implementing your new network.

E-rate Category 2: EducationSuperHighway also helps school district technology leaders take urgent action to bring robust and reliable Wi-Fi to their classrooms before millions of dollars of E-rate Category 2 funding expires. A wireless solution is often one of the most complex purchases a school district must make. Whether you want to explore your options or would like a trusted partner to help you put your available funding to use, EducationSuperHighway is here to help.

Two new options to support IL schools!

IL State Matching Grant Opportunity

The E-rate State Matching Grant Fund may have up to a total appropriation of $16.3 million in FY 2019 to help districts cover the non-discount project costs for E-rate special construction projects. As part of the state match, awardees can request a percentage of their non-discounted Erate Category 1 (C1) special construction project costs. The state will issue grants until the funds are expended. Funding opportunities leverage the federal E-rate program and grant applications are released in ’rounds’ that align with the E-rate application windows. Information on current and past opportunities is provided on the website linked from the section title under the ‘E-rate State Matching Grant’ section.

IL K-12 Broadband Network Consortium Opportunity

This program removes barriers limiting access to secure Internet bandwidth essential in today’s digital learning environment. The key objective is to provide connectivity through the Illinois Century Network (ICN), ensuring every Illinois public K-12 school district has sufficient and fully funded bandwidth to meet the needs of their students, faculty and administration.

To participate, complete the “Letter of Agency” and send to DoIT.ICN.K12@illinois.gov by September 6, 2019, to become a member of the DoIT E-rate consortium. Consortium membership is mandatory to receive Internet access and services at no charge. Once we receive the “Letter of Agency”, DoIT will file future E-rate subsidy on your behalf.

Free Expert Support

EducationSuperHighway provides the expert support to help you get scalable infrastructure to your district, more affordable bandwidth, and robust and reliable Wi-Fi connectivity.

Illinois Program Overview (PDF)

Free Webinars

EducationSuperHighway offers a series of free informational webinars throughout the E-rate cycle that provide tips and best practices for your network upgrade. Subjects include “E-rate 101: What’s New for 2018-19?”, “How to Launch a Successful Procurement”, “RFP Tips & Best Practices” and more. Register at www.educationsuperhighway.org/webinars

Programs Services

Enlist EducationSuperHighway’s help in getting fiber connections to schools that currently lack access. All of our programs are provided at no cost to the state or its districts.

Read success story: Massac Unit School District #1

Compare & Connect K-12 is a free school broadband tool powered by publicly available E-rate data. Thousands of school leaders have used Compare & Connect K-12 to compare their existing service and pricing with neighbors and similarly-sized districts, and have leveraged the power of price transparency to get more bandwidth for their broadband budget.

Find your district on compareandconnectk12.org

The Upgrade Toolkit provides you with actionable tips and best practices, templates and guides to help you with your E-rate Category 1 and Category 2 upgrades. Learn how to determine the type of fiber connection that is right for your school district and receive guidance on securing funding, managing procurement, and implementing fiber or more robust Wi-Fi connections for your schools.