Digital Skills Training

The knowledge to capitalize on the technology.

classes held at Connecting for Good

students enrolled

Opportunity

Access is only half the battle. With a broadband infrastructure supported from multiple providers including Google Fiber, Comcast/Time Warner, Consolidated Communications and AT&T, Kansas City has a full range of connection options, from the low-end of the spectrum (single Mbps) to gigabit speeds. There is also a variety of hardware options, from low-cost refurbished PCs to public computing centers. But when it comes to matters of digital inclusion, all of this technology is meaningless if people do not have the skills and understanding to use it to achieve their fullest potential. A 2012 survey conducted by Google Fiber and Global Prairie revealed that 17 percent of Kansas Citians (roughly 80,000) do not have access to the internet. Of that number, 41 think the internet is irrelevant and 28 percent lack access. Demographically, 44 percent are seniors, 46 percent are African-American, 42 percent make less than $25,000 a year and 64 percent have a high school education or less. These numbers paint a clear connection between digital literacy and economic viability. Without the skills to navigate life in a digital world, one cannot apply for most jobs, access important health or financial resources, or simply communicate on a day-to-day basis.

Solutions

Digital literacy training forms the cornerstone of any effort to address digital inclusion. Once the technology pieces are in place, in the form of affordable computers and low-cost network access,  real investments must be made in digital literacy training. Volunteer work alone is not adequate to sustain the effort. In Detroit, $3.1 million in grant money was awarded to provide Internet access, computers, and training to over 5,000 low-income residents. While the project encountered many barriers to building a new network, 1,500 of 2,100 residents who had been trained through the program began purchasing their own Internet access, suggesting that this training alone was able to significantly bridge a perceived economic gap. There are already a number of training programs under way in Kansas City, some of which have received awards from the Digital Inclusion Fund. These programs provide crucial training in skills including:

  • Email use
  • Search engine use
  • Health/medical info search
  • Government services search
  • Job applications
  • Social networking
  • Online shopping
  • Online banking
  • Classes/certification online

These programs must be supported as part of a metrowide Digital Inclusion Plan and helmed, in part, by the Digital Inclusion Coalition.  

Projects in action

KC Goes Tech

New microgrant program helps expand the ability of community organizations to include digital training in their offerings, and to network more effectively with existing digital literacy providers.

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Digital Equity for Community Health Workers

Community health workers (CHWs) are support personnel to the healthcare process of the people they serve. Currently, in the Kansas City region, their work especially includes linking the care environment to the social services environment. This has come about as more policy makers understand the power of the social determinants of health in patient outcomes.

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Digital Inclusion Fund

In 2014, more than $300,000 was awarded to community organizations actively working to bridge the digital divide. The search is on for this year’s grantees.

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News

KC Digital Drive Awards $20,000 in Digital Literacy Micro-grants

KC Digital Drive announced its first cohort of micro-grant recipients for “KC Goes Tech,” a new program that helps community organizations teach digital skills, such as how to use email and stay safe online, and it connects participants to funding for home internet and a computer they can take home after completing 15 hours of training.

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Healing House Is Helping Recovering Addicts Stay Connected During COVID-19

Founded in 2002, Healing House is Missouri’s largest provider of substance use recovery housing. In its twenty years of operation, it has served over 1,100 individuals by providing transitional housing, substance abuse recovery programming, and job search assistance. Healing House manages sixteen properties spread across northeast Kansas City, and on any given day almost 200 […]

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The Enterprise Center Offers Student Connectivity Support and Digital Inclusion Training for Chattanooga Residents

The Enterprise Center is a peer organization of KC Digital Drive that manages a range of digital inclusion programs aimed at improving connectivity and access to digital technologies in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Three of the most important are the Quick Connect and HCS EdConnect programs, which helped Chattanooga residents stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, and […]

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Partners