Bridging the Digital Divide in Our Community
The ConnectHome initiative was announced by the White House at the end of 2015. The agencies leading the initiative are The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the national nonprofit EveryoneOn. The pilot program is available to 27 Cities and 1 Native American Triable Community throughout the United States. According to the Federal Communications Commission, less than half of our nation’s poorest families have a wired Internet subscription at home, and more than 60 million Americans lack basic digital literacy. In the beginning of 2016, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s (CMHA) ConnectHome initiative distributed 400 tablet and hotspot combos to public housing residents within grades K – 12. These devices were obtained through partnerships with Sprint and GitHub. The Cleveland Public Library also provided the training curriculum for recipients and their parents.
The learning curve does not stop with our youth. In 2016, CMHA began its partnership with DigitalC. Plans were made to get 5 CMHA buildings internet access through the line of sight technology. One of the five CMHA buildings is the Cedar High Rise with houses 156 residents and located within the Campus District. In 2017, a radio antenna was placed on top of Cedar High Rise. Then St. Vincent Charity Medical Center transmitted radio frequencies to the Cedar High Rise, so residents could obtain access to the internet. Did you know that the Cedar High Rise building is the first CMHA building to have internet connectivity throughout? June 1, 2017, was when the first computer training session began. ConnectHome is not a Federally Funded Program so locally funding made the program possible. DigitalC partnered with RET3, a local refurbishing provider to bring wireless routers and computers to each resident who completed a training class presented by Ashbury Community Services (ASC3), which Ward 5 Phyllis Cleveland funded. The program has been such a successes that they are in their 5 sessions and 75 residents have completed the training. Residents have the option to take a 3-week class in the Morning or Afternoon twice a week for 2 hours. Residents learned how to turn on a computer, use a mouse, functions on a keyboard, create and send emails. The People who use computers daily, do not realize how difficult it is to use a mouse.