For Immediate Release
Mayor’s Press Office
Maggie Killackey Jurgensen
Chicago Public Library
MAYOR DALEY ANNOUNCES $1 MILLION BANK OF AMERICA GIFT TO CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY FOR FREE COMPUTER TRAINING
March 1, 2007
Mayor Richard M. Daley announced today that the Bank of America Charitable Foundation has donated $1 million to the Chicago Public Library Foundation to provide free computer training to the public.
The donation, the largest corporate contribution the Library has received in recent years, will be used to create the Computer Smarts Program, which will offer instruction in areas ranging from computer basics to advanced search strategies. The program will also introduce patrons to the Library’s online resources.
“One of the most important roles of the Chicago Public Library is providing access to computers and technology,” Daley said at a ceremony at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street. “But that doesn’t do you any good unless you know how to use a computer effectively.”
“Thanks to Bank of America, the Library will be able to help more Chicagoans become computer literate and take advantage of the vast technological resources the Library has to offer.”
Daley was joined at the ceremony by John Brennan, President of Bank of America Illinois; Mary Dempsey, Chicago Public Library Commissioner; Jayne Carr Thompson, President of the Chicago Public Library Board of Trustees; Jim Donnelley, Chairman of the Chicago Public Library Foundation; and board members of the Chicago Public Library and Chicago Public Library Foundation.
The grant will also be used to expand the Chicago Public Library’s popular CyberNavigator program, which has existed at select branches for the past six years. CyberNavigators are local college students who work with library personnel to help patrons use the Library’s technology. With support from Bank of America, the Chicago Public Library will hire 15 CyberNavigators this fall to support new computer classes and provide one-on-one instruction and trouble-shooting at 15 CPL locations. The number of CPL locations participating in Computer Smarts will expand each year.
The donation to the Chicago Public Library is part of Bank of America’s corporate giving program and is being announced as the company unveils its new brand positioning, Bank of Opportunity™. This theme reflects Bank of America’s unique role in helping individuals, businesses and communities around the world realize opportunities to achieve their goals. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s grant to the Chicago Public Library is one of several significant charitable donations being announced in the coming weeks to celebrate the power of opportunity. Each will address critical needs of the neighborhoods in which the bank operates.
“One of the most important ways Bank of America creates opportunities for our customers and communities is through a grant like this to the Chicago Public Library,” said Bank of America’s Brennan. “It’s not just about providing access to computers, but educating Chicagoans on how to effectively and efficiently utilize the technology. Whether it is applying for college, conducting research for a school report, or submitting a resume for an online job opportunity, our support of the Library will enhance the lives of families across our community.”
A major initiative of the Chicago Public Library’s current strategic plan, CPL 2010, is to provide training to the public in how to use online resources efficiently, safely and knowledgeably. CPL 2010 highlights the continued prevalence of the digital divide – especially among lower income Chicagoans. According to 2003 U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Commerce data, only half of Chicago households with an annual income of $30,000 to $40,000 have Internet access at home. That number drops to 24 percent of households for those with annual incomes of less than $15,000.
“Public libraries are in a unique position to bridge the digital divide,” commented Commissioner Dempsey. “With support from the City of Chicago and generous corporate partners like Bank of America, the Chicago Public Library will continue to provide Chicagoans with a free and safe place to access essential online information to better their lives.”
Last year, the Chicago Public Library provided 3.5 million Internet sessions on 1,800 free public computers. Additionally, all 79 branches of the Chicago Public Library offer free WiFi. The Library’s website receives more than 27 million hits per month.