Four fellows placed across Illinois to improve digital literacy, broadband access

Central Illinois Newsday

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Lead for America (LFA) and Heartland Forward announced the placement of four American Connection Corps (ACC) Fellows in Illinois.

These fellows will work to increase broadband access and digital literacy and contribute to critical community development initiatives in the Chicagoland area, Metro East, Quad Cities, and Greater Peoria.

“Lead For America is on a mission to build a generation of civic leaders dedicated to tackling the
toughest challenges facing the communities they call home—and we are excited to bring our
Hometown Fellowship model to communities across Illinois, from Peoria to Mercer counties,
this year. The coronavirus pandemic
underscored the importance of both leadership, and of closing the digital divide in rural and
urban communities across America. We are honored to partner with Land O’Lakes and the
other American Connection Corps partners in placing 50 dynamic, and locally rooted leaders in
the communities and places that helped raise them. We are committed to ensuring this
initiative becomes a pathway home for outstanding Illinoisans for many years to come.”

Joe Nail, CEO and co-founder of Lead For America

Peoria’s fellow is Grace Clucas. She’s a 2021 graduate from Saint Mary’s College, where she double-majored in political science and history and was an active leader in student groups on campus, including Student Government and Model UN. In her role as a Fellow, Grace will provide digital navigation and technical literacy to support the community in tandem with local partner organizations and conduct outreach to local educational institutions to help them take advantage of the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

“The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council (GPEDC) views the expansion of broadband access, affordability, and utilization as integral to our development strategy,” said Casey Peterson, Director of Rural Outreach and Development at Greater Peoria EDC. “With the addition of Grace to our team, we will be able to drastically expand our broadband development and digital inclusion efforts in the five counties we serve. The GPEDC is excited to be among the first organizations to host an American Connection Corp fellow.”

For general information on the ACC, please visit:
https://www.lead4america.org/american-connection-corps

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