The mission of Connecting For Good is to provide computer skills, computers, and internet access to low and moderate income communities.
A connected future for all—that through Digital Literacy Training, low-cost computers and Internet access, low income residents will achieve measurable and sustainable gains in Education, Employment, Economic Impact, and the Environment.
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) defines Digital Inclusion as having five elements: Internet Access, Affordable Computers, Computer Skills Training, Educational Online Content and Technical Support.
Connecting For Good is one of only a small number of organizations in the United States offering programs across each of these five elements. Since we started in 2012, we have:
As a founding member of the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion, Connecting For Good is helping Kansas City forge a national leadership model to effectively bridging the Digital Divide.
Connecting For Good has been bridging the Digital Divide since 2012 by providing Connectivity, Hardware, and Training, and delivering impact through a focus on Education, Employment, Economic Impact, and the Environment. We operate two Community Computer Training and Donation Centers, at 2006 North 3rd Street in Kansas City, Kansas, and 3210 Michigan Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. These areas are two of Kansas City’s most under resourced neighborhoods. Our centers serve as a base of operations on both sides of the state line.
Education: In 2016, we trained 7,000 individuals from the urban core by teaching over 53 different digital literacy topics in over 15 different Kansas City locations.
Employment: We employ individuals we teach—six of our current staff started out as volunteers or students. We provide technical skills training through internships and partnerships with local work investment organizations like the Full Employment Council, and, in 2017, the KC Social Innovation Center, who organized the HireKC Youth program. In total we have hosted over 30 interns since 2015, one of whom, has become a paid staff member.
Economic Impact: Our programs are built with sustainability in mind. We refurbish donated computers for resale to income-qualified consumers, and we offer tech support as well as Internet service support to community centers and non-profits serving the urban core. In 2016 we sold nearly 300 computers and connected over 1,400 internet subscribers in low-income housing. With growing demand from residents and non-profits for more computers and Internet service, the earned income from computer sales and tech support helps to defray the costs of our services to the community.
Environment: Our communities benefit from the planet-friendly impact on our environment through our donation centers, computer refurbishing, and responsible recycling of any unused computer equipment. We have prevented several tons of landfill from claiming unused computers through partnership with The Surplus Exchange and EPC, both certified recyclers of tech equipment. We are always looking to increase the number of donated computers we service and the amount of recyclable material we generate.
The bulk of CFG’s impact has come from building relationships through individualized training in both of our community computer labs, as well as remote training provided to low-income residents at churches, community centers, and public housing facilities.
All but two of the staff began as clients or volunteers. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), “To successfully increase broadband adoption, all barriers must be addressed through a diverse set of local partners with established roots in the community. Each local solution should be tailored to the individual community. Equally important, trust – between the individual and organization providing instruction – is essential.” Every staff member has a high degree of empathy with clients.
As the only organization in the region whose sole mission is digital inclusion, CFG seeks to optimize collective impact across any organization offering help for low-income residents who seek to improve their lives through digital fluency.
CFG targets 7,500 participants in the current year, an average of 26 people per day across all sites served. Over 80% have annual incomes below federal poverty guidelines. Demographics include 85% African American, 10% Caucasian, and 5% Hispanic/Latino in KCMO, and in KCK, the demographic is 85% African American, 5% Latino, and 10% Somali. Sixty-five percent are working age adults over the age of 21; 25% are retirees and older adults and 20% school-age children. Many clients are considered high-need based on risk factors such as a single-mother leading a household, poor academic attainment, lost time at work, negative behaviors (smoking, alcoholism, drug use), and health issues (depression, obesity, heart disease), and language barriers among parents. The most common difficulty CFG faces is the constant interruption of these risk factors in the lives of its clients. This is why CFG’s staffing criteria include empathy, patience, and positive persistence. CFG’s mission is founded on researched principles that is just now starting to become part of a national and global dialogue.
The increasing number of CFG programs over the past four years showcases the comprehensive, collaborative, and entrepreneurial sustainability of Connecting For Good as a model for digital inclusion leadership among community-based organizations.