AUGUST 13, 2015
The Digital Divide is very real in Kansas City. We believe it is one of the most important social justice issues of our day.
25% of Kansas City area residents don’t have broadband Internet access at home.
42% of those who don’t use the Internet have annual household incomes of under $25,000, most of whom live in low income housing.
46% of nonusers are minorities. *
Additionally, 70% of Kansas City Public Schools students do not have the Internet in their homes. 40% of students will move at least once during the school year.
Only 20% urban core households in KC’s predominantly minority, low income neighborhoods, have a PC and Internet connection. (2013 US Census)
Used by permission of the Open Technology Institute 2014
About Connecting for Good
Connecting for Good been bridging the Digital Divide since 2011 with wireless mesh networks, community technology centers, low cost refurbished PCs and free digital life skills classes. It is the only Kansas City area nonprofit, that has digital inclusion as its core mission. That’s because our core belief is that connectivity equals opportunity. Access to the Internet brings with it a chance to apply for jobs online, connections with family and friends, access to virtual library shelves, information about medical and health issues, online education — GED completion and college courses — and a whole lot more.
Connecting for Good is governed by a community-based board of directors. Our mission is to enable organizations and individuals to use technology to connect with one another in order to have a positive impact on society and the environment. Learn more about the history of Connecting for Good.
Our core values are:
- Internet connectivity equals opportunity. It is an absolute necessity in order to fully participate as a productive citizen in a digital society.
- Education is the number one thing that lifts people from poverty. In a digital society it is impossible to pursue a quality education without access to the Internet.
- In-home Internet access is as essential as any modern utility; like phone service, electricity and running water.
Our three-pronged strategy of Connectivity, Hardware and Digital Literacy is being accomplished through these ongoing activities:
A. Community Technology Centers: We currently operate two community technology centers, at 2006 N 3rd Street in Kansas City KS and 3201 Michigan in Kansas City MO. Located in two of Kansas City’s most under resourced neighborhoods, we offer a variety of programs to promote technology use and access, including regular free classes in computer and Internet use.
B. Digital Life Skills Classes: We have developed a curriculum designed to help people in under-resourced urban communities to access online resources and create a brighter future for themselves and their families. In order to take hands on experiences with broadband Internet to these neighborhoods we have a portable computer lab that can be setup in key locations in our targeted communities in order to introduce residents to the online world. We hold Family Computer Days at various community institutions every month.
C. Inexpensive Internet-ready Refurbished PCs: Thousands in our area have no computer at home and cannot take advantage of all the benefits of Internet connectivity. We collect used desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones for this purpose. This equipment is provided to low income residents at an extremely low price, as low as $75.00 for those who qualify. We also assist those who purchase computers to find the most affordable options for Internet service.
D. Internet Access for Low Income Families: We operate free Wi-Fi networks at three low income housing projects; Rosedale Ridge and Juniper Gardens in Kansas City KS and Posada del Sol, a senior high rise in Kansas City MO. The mesh network at Juniper Gardens covers over four city blocks. In all we are providing connectivity, free of charge to 500 low income households. We are have plans for similar projects at additional properties on both sides of the state line.
E. Technology Assistance for for Nonprofit Organizations: Connecting for Good works to support other local organizations to close the Digital Divide. Through our Train-the-Trainer activities, we teach staff members and volunteers from other agencies how to teach the digital life we’ve developed. To spread connectivity throughout our community, we install wireless mesh networks, community access computer centers, and public access Wi-Fi hotspots.
While we serve people from throughout Greater Kansas City, our efforts have been focused on two of the areas neediest areas, NE Wyandotte County and neighborhoods East of Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. Up to 80% of residents in these parts of the city do not own computers or have in-home Internet access.
Since March 2013, over 2,000 people from these communities participated in our free classes and took home our high quality, Internet-ready refurbished computers. Our records reveal that:
- 25% have never used a computer
- 75% have incomes of under $20,000 a year
- 75% are over 50 years old
- 80% are minorities, predominantly African American
- 2/3 of participants in the free classes are women
- 1/2 of women 60+ have a child under 18 living with them
- 90% purchased a computer from us after taking the free classes
The fact that a large majority of them are black women over 50 years old significant. Most have children under 18 years old living with them, many of whom attend the Kansas City Public Schools where 70% of students do not have in-home Internet access. In a very real way, we are supporting these women, who are looking out for their communities – especially the children – by getting themselves up to speed with the online world. At the same time, he provide them with low cost computers so that the children in their care can have the same advantages of being online as their suburban peers
Besides seeking grant funding and contributions from the public, Connecting for Good is committed to a social enterprise model of sustainability. Delivering refurbished PCs and providing IT support for other nonprofits covers nearly half of our operating costs.
- Watch CFG President, Michael Liimatta’s presentation to the Kansas City MO City Council, Oct. 31, 2013.
- View our 1 Million Cups Presentation at the Kauffman Foundation on Jan. 30, 2013.
How you can be involved:
- Take a few moments to learn more about our programs
- Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive regular updates via e-mail
- Download the PDF Version of our most recent Programs and Activities Presentation
- See “CFG in the Media” on the right menu for local and national media coverage of our efforts.
- If you want to get involved please contact us.
Connecting for Good is a registered Kansas not-for-profit corporation #4563276 and has 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions in the form of monetary gifts and equipment donations are tax-deductible.