Fall 2013 Digital Literacy and Inclusion Campaign

AUGUST 2, 2013

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Our digital life skills team meets at the Troost headquarters to plan for our Fall 2013 community outreach; Karita Matlock, Jason Lowe, Pauline Eatmon-Johnson, Rick Deane, Dan Harmon and Lisa Alston.

This time last year, citizens throughout the Kansas City area were organizing to make sure Google Fiber was installed in their “fiberhoods.” The company divided the cities into sections of roughly 1,000 homes and required a certain minimum number of potential subscribers (5-25%) to sign up before they sent crews to connect homes in a particular area. Effective community organizing included rallies to encourage residents to pay the $10 preregistration fee.  For some, this fee was paid using funds raised through a crowdfunding campaign called “Paint the Town Green.” As a result, fiber will be coming to over 80% of neighborhoods on both sides of the state line and over 400 public institutions will receive free 1 GB high speed fiber Internet connections.

Google Fiber’s installation schedule is based upon when each fiberhood qualified during the rally.  The  lower income neighborhoods we care most about were the last to qualify. East of Troost and NE Wyandotte County fiberhoods are set to receive Google Fiber this fall and winter. So now the hard work begins.

We are working to make sure as many people as possible can take advantage of Google Fiber’s generous offer of seven years of 5 MB Internet for just $300 (payable in 12 monthly installments). Two very common responses during the preregistration rally period by people with fewer resources were: ”I don’t have a computer and can’t afford one” and “I think it’s important but I don’t know where I can learn about it.”  Connecting for Good has spent the last six months effectively addressing these very issues.

Since January 1, we have been teaching our digital life skills curriculum several times a week at a number of different venues throughout the city.  In two sessions, participants learn the basics of the computer and skills that help them become productive users of the Internet.  This includes how to set up an e-mail account, browsing and searching the Internet, e-commerce basics and accessing online services such as educational, social service and employment web sites.

At the same time, we have collected used computers and distributed hundreds of refurbished PCs. For those who qualify as low income and complete the classes, we have been able to provide laptops and desktops for just $50.00.

This fall, we plan to continue regularly scheduled digital life skills classes at our new facility at 3101 Troost in Kansas City, Missouri.  We also plan to take our mobile computer lab to the twenty fiberhoods with the lowest number of Google Fiber preregistrations in the months of September, October and November. These are some of the areas in the KC Metro Area with the highest percentage of low income families – people who can benefit the most by getting online.



For this campaign to be successful, we will need assistance from our entire community.  Most importantly, we need to collect at least 500 used laptop computers and will need volunteers who can assist with refurbishing operations and in teaching the digital life skills classes.  For volunteers, we will offer training to work with us in these areas.

If you are interested in volunteering, please use our Contact Form.

To donate computer equipment, use our Computer Donation Form.

We are also seeking financial donations, so our web site is set up to receive online contributions.

Thank you so much for your continuing interest and support!

 

Written by Tom Esselman

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