According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, 11,899 Boulder County residents don’t have a computer or Internet subscription in their home. The populations most impacted by digital inequity are high school graduates who are unemployed or not in the labor force, those who identify as Hispanic, and residents 65 years or older.
To address this challenge, Sister Carmen Community Center partnered with Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and several other area organizations and to create a new program—Bridging Digital Divides (BDD). BDD connects underserved families and individuals with digital resources that they would otherwise not be able to access on their own. BDD promotes digital equity by providing affordable technology to low-income households, teaching basic computer skills to individuals that need them, and collaborating with other agencies to create a sustainable and community-driven movement towards digital equity.
During the program’s first year in 2018, 10 digital literacy series were launched with 145 participants, 90% of whom were women. The series consisted of 8 two-hour classes, in Spanish, covering the basics of email, internet search and security, scams and phishing, typing and word-processing, and the navigation of local online resources such as the BVSD parent portal. Childcare and dinner were provided, as well as a Chromebook for participants with perfect attendance. We are proud to announce a graduation rate of 98%!
Broadband Internet access is another crucial part of bridging the gap. BDD is currently assisting participants with Internet access through a partnership with Livewire and Comcast’s discount program. So far, BDD has connected 38% of participants who indicated that they did not have broadband Internet service at home.
All participants last year were Latino, but BDD plans to add a bilingual series in 2019 to reach low-income English-speaking participants and seniors. This spring, BDD will also hold 5 classes in Boulder, Lafayette, and Broomfield, including an experimental Level II class. Participants in the Level II classes will also serve as volunteers in the Level I classes, which empowers alumni to share their new skills.
Want to get involved? We’re always looking for volunteers to assist with classes! Contact Lara for more information.