EveryoneOn partnered with Connect.DC and United Planning Organization (UPO) to host a technology distribution event on November 05, 2014 at the Petey Greene Community Center in Washington, DC. The event marked a celebration for individuals who completed a digital literacy training program through UPO. Together, EveryoneOn, Connect.DC. and UPO are working to make home Internet access a reality for DC residents who otherwise could not afford it.
As a reward for completing digital literacy training, program participants received laptop computers and one year of Internet service, all of which was paid for by Connect.DC. EveryoneOn worked to facilitate the procurement of devices and Internet service (through Freedom Pop, Mobile Beacon, and Comcast’s Internet Essentials).
“Access to information has become as valuable in our day and age as access to education, health care, and the bare necessities of life,” said UPO Executive Vice President Andrea Thomas. “Indeed, the argument can be made that in our digital age, adequate access to any of these things does not happen without digital inclusion.”
Program participants ranged from families with young children to senior citizens, all with the same ambition to be connected to the Internet and the range of opportunities home access brings. When surveyed, recipients indicated that they were planning to use their Internet access and laptop for health care, employment services, education, and interacting with family and friends.
As more and more resources are found online, we must ensure that all people are able to access them. While the digital divide in DC has been steadily decreasing over the last decade, an astounding 26 percent of residents still have no Internet at home. Another 4.5 percent of residents are limited to mobile Internet only. These percentages are higher when you look at minority and low-income populations.
“I have school-aged children,” said Kimberly Thomas, who attended the event. “They try to do most of the stuff on my phone, but sometimes it is hard to pull up everything on the phone.” For Kimberley and others, the main barrier to getting online tends to be cost: Internet service is an expense that many just don’t have room for in their budgets.
City officials report that neighborhoods in less affluent parts of DC—such as Wards 5, 7, and 8—have broadband adoption rates below 50 percent.
EveryoneOn and Connect.DC are working to continue similar programs in 2015 as we strive to get 100 percent of residents online. DC residents interested in low-cost Internet service, discounted devices, or digital literacy training can visit EveryoneOn.org/ConnectDC to find out more.
Amber Petty is the programs associate at EveryoneOn.