National Digital Inclusion Conference unveils wealth of resources in the Twin Cities

The National Digital Inclusion Conference is coming to St Paul, Minnesota this May (16-17). We couldn’t be more excited! We look forward to great conversion, new people and experts from around the country. We also look forward to showing off some of our local digital inclusion efforts.

I am on the conference planning committee and leading up the charge to pick the best of best that logistically fit into one of the three tours we’re planning. First step was gathering the list of possibilities, which I wanted to share to help you all get a little excited too. We can’t visit them all but it will give you a flavor of what might pop up…

In Downtown St Paul

  • St Paul Library’s Innovation Lab is a mini-maker space for adults. It includes tablets, a sewing machine, a recording studio and more. You can smell the newness of it too.
  • The Minnesota Science Museum is great for all ages. It offers a host of hands-on computer classes and they have a whole center focused on leadership and STEM programs for underserved youth.
  • Genesys Works offers technology training to high school students, matches it with meaningful (and paid!) internships to build relationship with local employers. What a great way to get a foot in the door.
  • Right Track is a training and internship matchmaking services. The train youth (14-21), help them find jobs (or help local employers find motivated workers) and work with both to make sure the match is successful.
  • Comcast is just across the Mississippi River from Downtown. They offer reduced rate broadband access to low income households but they also sponsor and support a number of local digital inclusion efforts.
  • The Lac qui Parle County Computer Commuter will be driving three plus hours from the west to show us the how they rehabbed a bus for mobile training. The Computer Commuter usually travels from rural town to rural town with computers and a mobile network – like a bookmobile gone digital.


  • PCs for People refurbishes donated computers and sells them at affordable prices to low income households. They also provide affordable tech support when you need it. A real bonus to a new computer user.
  • SPNN (St Paul Neighborhood Network) is the local public access network. They host AmeriCorps workers for their Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) program. They find ways for they to help youth and adults use technology to better access social, civic, educational and economic opportunities. You can see their fingerprints doing good all around town.
  • Hubbs Center is an Adult Basic Education center and part of St Paul Public School system. They teach a range of classes including GED preparation in multiple languages. They have distance learning options.
  • Rondo Library is home to many digital inclusion programs including classes ranging from digital life skills to building a website. They have computers that are set up with assistive technology for people of all abilities and they have homework help.
  • MN Literacy Council teaches a wide range of literacy skills, including technology literacy. They also lead advocacy efforts.
  • SPNN (St Paul Neighborhood Network) is a public access and community communication  nonprofit. Among other things, they sponsor the Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP), which matches AmeriCorps members with community-based organizations. You can see their fingerprints doing good around the Cities.
  • The Independent Filmmaker Project is an SPNN project that supports filmmakers – from training to help marketing to grants. They work with folks of all ages, especially youth.


  • Best Buy is a retail consumer electronics corporation headquartered in the Twin Cities. They are very supportive of many local Digital Inclusion efforts, including SPNN, Reve Academy, Boys & Girls Clubs and more.
  • UROC (Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center) connects the University of Minnesota with urban communities to advance learning and work on solutions to critical issues. Programs are patron-focused and include Metro Food Access Network to 4H, Lao Assistance center, Digital Storytelling and Youth Empowerment and many others.
  • Teen Tech Center at Hennepin County Central Library has Technology and multimedia tools available for music and video production, interactive programming, digital photography, graphic design, and much more.
  • PPL (Project for Pride in Living) Learning Center focuses on job and skills training for a range of positions. Some courses offer college credit and there are a host of technology classes. (Stipends available for completion of some courses.)
  • Fix IT Clinics are events that happen around Hennepin County. Visitors bring in small household appliances, clothing, electronics, mobile devices and more and receive free guided assistance from volunteers with repair skills to disassemble, troubleshoot and fix their items.
  • Nordeast Makers is a maker space with a wide range of equipment (a huge industrial CNC router, a 4′ x 4′ CNC router, two ultra-precise liquid-cooled laser cutters, high-resolution 3D printers, a vinyl cutter, full woodworking shop, electronics lab, and more) and a membership willing to teach each other to become better makers.
This entry was posted in Conferences, Digital Divide, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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