I attended an interesting webinar sponsored by the NTIA yesterday – Accelerating Impact with Technology: Building Skills, Confidence, and Community. They highlighted broadband adoption programs. Here is the official description:
Whether your focus is economic self-sufficiency, community change, health, or education, the Internet is changing the way you achieve your goals. As more information and services move online, people who are “digitally isolated” grow more excluded from opportunity and less connected to their communities. Although most American households are now online, a large minority – about 30 percent, including many whose members are poorer, less educated, and older – are not. Since 2010, investments in community-based Internet education and training, including $450 million from a federal grant program (the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP) and $210 million in matching funds, have demonstrated the power of the Internet to change lives, improving educational outcomes, job readiness, social isolation, and health care. As a result of these investments, there is substantial new capacity available to bring families and communities online – including comprehensive models and resources for program planning, implementation, and evaluation.
This session will describe ways to leverage this untapped intellectual and social capital. We will present exciting results from BTOP and related initiatives, including those in Chicago (the Chicago Community Trust), Kansas City (the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation) and rural Minnesota (the C.K. Blandin Foundation), where philanthropy is playing a transformative role.
Technology access is powerful and disruptive. It can break down generational and social divides, empower immigrants, and open a world of possibilities for new users. Local foundations, working in partnership with government and the private sector, have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build on this new capacity to accelerate the impact of their work.
All three speakers did a good job highlighting the role of broadband in lifting up all corners of a community – and the impact that lifting up all corners has on the community. I’ve been on the road a lot this week so it’s easy for me to think of a driving analogy. One really great way to improve your time from St Paul to Brainerd is to miss the red lights. Same with lifting a community – one really good way is to make sure no one is at a standstill. Once you do that it’s just a matter of steady improvement to change the course.
I’m pleased to share the PPTs from two of the speakers.
Bernadine Joselyn really spoke about the opportunity for Foundations to rise to the occasion to support broadband expansion (adoption and deployment) because broadband is a tool that helps communities accomplish so much of what foundations stand for – access to democracy, community participation, economic vitality and sustained autonomy among residents. It would be great to spread that word to more foundations.
Dan O’Neil from Smart Chicago was also kind enough to share his PPT via Slideshare. Smart Chicago does a fantastic job taking advantage of open technology and access to information to create amazing civic apps!