Community Impact

Helping Austinites Get Connected

In celebration of Digital Inclusion Week , we’re featuring posts from our incredible partners across the country who are working to broaden Internet access and build digital literacy in our Google Fiber Cities. Today’s blog comes from Community Tech Network’s Director of Programs, Jessica Looney, in Austin, Texas.

The Internet is essential to so many aspects of our lives today and it is critical that everyone, regardless of income, education level or age, has the access and the digital skills they need. Yet today, many people still do not have access to digital tools like the Internet, computers, or the skills to utilize them. Even in a tech-forward city like Austin, Texas, there are roughly 55,000 households without a broadband internet connection.

This is why the Community Tech Network (CTN) and Google Fiber partner to bridge that divide here in Austin. CTN’s mission is to transform lives through digital literacy and has over 11 years of experience helping people cross the digital divide.

Having been a presence in Austin for over two years now, CTN is pleased to be a part of Austin’s vibrant digital community and excited to work with partners such as Google Fiber, City of Austin and Austin Independent School District (AISD). CTN recently collaborated with the City’s Innovation Team to develop a Digital Device Drop-in program for People Experiencing Homelessness (PEH). Each week CTN volunteers attend a shift at the Terrazas branch of the Austin Public Library and provide drop-in help to anyone with questions about their device, Smartphones, using email, social media, and more.

CTN also works with AISD to meet the needs of low-income parents seeking digital literacy training on specific AISD digital platforms. With the support of Google Fiber, and in partnership with another local non-profit, Latinitas , the Digital Parents Program will provide basic digital skills, in both English and Spanish, to parents to help them participate in their child’s education and communicate more effectively with the teachers and school. CTN plans to serve 25-30 parents at Martin Junior High School as part of a pilot. If successful, CTN hopes to engage parents in four additional schools to reach hundreds of families.

To celebrate this year’s Digital Inclusion Week , CTN is hosting Tech Teach-In (TTI) events focused on providing digital skills training to adults and seniors. One of these events will connect Google Fiber volunteers to residents at Wildflower Terrace, a Family Eldercare senior housing community. Tech Teach-Ins are half day events that engage corporate volunteers who deliver digital skills training. Volunteers help job seekers apply for employment, parents reach their children’s teachers, older adults research healthcare information and low- income residents access social services. Over the last year, CTN has conducted six TTI events serving over 100 low-income senior residents in the Austin area.

We’re very proud to continue to partner with Google Fiber as CTN continues the ongoing mission to unite organizations and volunteers to transform lives through digital literacy. If you are interested in becoming a partner, contact Kami Griffiths, Executive Director/Co-founder at kami@communitytechnetwork.org . If you are interested in volunteering with CTN, please email volunteer@communitytechnetwork.org.

Posted by Jessica Looney, Director of Programs, Community Tech Network, Austin, TX

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