I’ve written about Project FINE before; they have received several Blandin Foundation broadband grants (some indirectly) in the past. Here’s a brief description taken from their website:
Project FINE is a local, private, non-profit, tax exempt organization that helps newcomers integrate into the community. We provide foreign
language interpreters and translators as well as opportunities for education, information, referral, and empowerment for immigrants and refugees. Our work is accomplished through a small staff, volunteers, interpreters, and extensive collaboration with local service providers.
They recently reported on their latest digital inclusion program, which involved 40 participants attending in-depth computer training. They went beyond the basics to learn how to create an online presence and maintain it. The report included valuable information that I thought might help others develop or improve their digital inclusion efforts…
What messages motivated people to become and stay involved with this effort?
The topic of social media and internet access was developed based on requests from individuals who participated in our previous technology education. This community need shaped the outreach and communication for this program, which focused on personal interaction. Participants were contacted individually to share program goals and encourage them to attend training sessions and program staff maintained contact throughout the grant period, using social media whenever possible.
I have been working on digital inclusion efforts for almost 20 years. There was a day when you really just needed to tell a few folks about the opportunity to learn about the Internet and the room would be filled. Those days are gone – as Project FINE’s note indicated. People on the far end of the digital divide now need more hand-holding. They need the personal invitation and continued personal cheerleading to continue. It’s hard because it’s time consuming but it’s necessary. And it’s rewarding because once there a new world can open up for them – access to education, health care apps and even hometown news, which can be pretty valuable if you’ve immigrated and haven’t been home in a while.