The program recently received $6.9 million in federal funding, as well as more than $3 million in assistance and contributions from a number of participating entities across the state, to increase the sustainable adoption of broadband services for more than 200,000 state residents. Free computer training sessions will be provided at public libraries and community colleges throughout Ohio to introduce new users to a wide range of communication, education, and healthcare tools available online. Interested adults throughout Ohio are eligible to participate in the program, which is geared toward first-time computer and broadband users.
Classes are scheduled to begin in January 2011 at libraries and community colleges throughout the state and will continue for two years. A complete list of participating locations with contact information can be found at http://connectohio.org/consumer_training or by calling 1-855-NOW-I-CAN (669-42260). Free self-paced training is being offered online for those unable to attend classes. Self-paced training can be completed by visiting http://connectohio.org/consumer_training.
“This is an incredibly exciting program for Ohio. Currently, just 66% of Ohio households subscribe to broadband service, leaving more than three million Ohioans on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Connect Ohio Executive Director Tom Fritz said. “The Every Citizen Online program is an opportunity to close the gap between those who have computer technology at home and those who do not, preparing state residents without high-speed Internet for a technologically-driven society. This program model presents an opportunity to set a precedent for other states. We’re very pleased to have developed the project through a highly collaborative effort with dozens of local libraries and community colleges across Ohio.”
Connect Ohio is a non-profit public-private partnership, whose mission is to see all Ohioans connected to the benefits of high-speed Internet service. Through the Every Citizen Online program, Connect Ohio is assisting libraries and community colleges with the cost of instructors, computers, and public awareness to provide training to as many as 200,000 new users over the next two years.
Other partners in the program include the State Library of Ohio, The Ohio Association of Broadcasters, The Ohio Public Television Stations, Ohio Public Radio, Groundwork Group, the Ohio Public Library Information Network, and a wide variety of libraries and community colleges across the state. Computer companies, such as Intel and Microsoft, have expressed interest in the project and many broadband service providers across Ohio are working to ensure that participants can easily get online by providing special incentives to first-time broadband subscribers who complete the training.
Connect Ohio’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) matching grant is awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). BTOP provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.
View Connect Ohio’s Every Citizen Online televised public service announcements: http://connectohio.org/consumer_training/media.php.
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