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Results from a study of a Smart Communities grant show what happens when a concentrated effort is made to educate residents of low and moderate-income communities about the power of the Internet and how it can improve their quality of life. The Smart Communities program offered Internet training for residents, technical assistance and training for businesses, and digital media programs for youth in nine predominantly African Americana and Latino neighborhoods in Chicago. It was funded by a $7 million federal stimulus grant designed to promote the adoption of high-speed Internet in underserved areas.
“These are the kinds of changes that can really make a difference for people and for these communities, both in terms of employment and economic development,” Mossberger told the Chicago Sun Times. “People are more likely to engage in learning and in civic activities when they have regular Internet access.”
The study shows an increase in Internet use compared with other Chicago neighborhoods. It finds that residents use the Internet to obtain information about jobs, health care and transit. The study was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Partnership for a Connected Illinois. Mossberger presented results in Washington, D.C., May 30.