One of Kansas City’s digital leader sisters is none other than Charlotte, North Carolina. Friday, Feb 3. the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion talked with Charlotte’s Digital Inclusion Project Manager at the Knight School of Communications, Bruce Clark. Bruce Clark credits Kansas City’s efforts as Charlotte’s inspiration and says they often have looked in our direction on its path toward digital inclusion.

Currently, Charlotte is creating a digital equity “playbook,” that has been inspired by Kansas City’s own digital inclusion playbook. When creating their coalition of partners, Clark even said that he printed out pages from Kansas City’s Digital Playbook in order to organize.

“The playbook will create a pathway for a broader understanding of the opportunity we have here in our city,” Clark said. “It will set forth a series of aspirational ‘plays’ we believe will help us achieve our ultimate goal of reducing the digital divide in Charlotte from 19% to 9% by 2027.” Kansas City’s own plan has a set of plays to improve digital equity, by reaching into neighborhoods, the educational system, health care and local government with the ultimate goal of digital inclusion.

One of the most successful efforts that Charlotte has accomplished is it’s work through the organizations that were already based in economic inclusion. Clark praised the library as one of the best partners who truly understood their [client] base. Their most successful campaigns have been incorporating digital into existing inclusion efforts in the city.  One such program was working with the library to double school I.D. cards as library cards.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of building trust amongst our partner organizations and directly with the community,” Clark said. “Nothing happens without that trust.”

Clark and his team have come across many lessons in the beginnings of this outreach effort. Some lessons are the same as those learned in Kansas City, others are more closely related to the specific needs of Charlotte.

“And while each place is unique,” Clark said, “there are best practices and lessons learned that can be shared to accelerate our collective work. What is good for Kansas City, is likely helpful to our work in Charlotte as well. I’m eager to continue to grow those relationships.

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