Bowling Green, Ky. (May 8, 2017) – Digital Inclusion Week runs from May 8 to May 13. The week is meant to raise awareness that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, must have access to technologies that can improve their quality of life. For Connected Nation (CN), that means ensuring that no family, individual, or business is left without access to the Internet no matter the economic or geographic constraints that currently limit their access, adoption, or use of the technology.
“The benefits of having high-speed broadband Internet are enormous, and those who don’t have access to it are at an enormous disadvantage,” said Eric Frederick, Vice President of Community Affairs for CN. “Just think what it would be like to apply for a job. Most companies have their applications online or post job opportunities online. The same goes for many educational opportunities or even just being able to buy products or services for less.”
Frederick leads the Connected Community Engagement Program (Connectedsm), which works to identify where there is a lack of broadband and provides solutions to connecting the community with its community-specific Technology Action Plan. The engagement program staff work directly with local community leaders to help businesses, families, farmers, urban and rural schools and libraries, and others find ways to connect to broadband and improve their communities.
“It’s incredible how beneficial the Internet is to families and businesses. The opportunities are limitless. To leave people out, to leave them without the broadband access that can improve their quality of life or help them improve their education or financial standing, is simply wrong,” Frederick said.
Connected Nation’s Digital Works Program goes a step further—addressing job loss or lack of digital literacy—to ensure people adopt the Internet and are able to use it to their benefit once it’s available in their area.
“We have classes across the United States where people are trained in how to use digital resources or, if they already have a basic understanding, we train them for employer-related needs such as customer service,” Heather Delany, Director of Digital Works, said. “Work-at-home jobs are one the fastest-growing segments of the workforce, and for rural areas, they also can be vital for saving the economy and small communities.”
Digital Works has partnered with more 70 companies nationwide. The program works with each company to determine its current needs and develops classes that meet those needs. Digital Works staff also mentors its graduates to address any issues that may arise as they move into the workforce or onboard with a new employer and lets them know about new employment opportunities so they can advance in their careers.
Connected Nation also works with state governments to provide more accurate data-mapping of where there is a lack of broadband services and gives businesses and community organization a platform to meet their online training needs through its Drive program. The nonprofit also has a long history of working within states, including most recently Alaska and Utah, to provide technology assessments of school districts by identifying opportunities and challenges for students, parents, and educators.
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