San Francisco, CA, May 03, 2012 --(PR.com
)-- While it seems that everything and everyone is hyper-connected with the Internet, smart phones and tablets, the reality is that 1 in every 5 Americans is left behind in a digital divide.
It is hard to imagine not being able to navigate a computer desktop or watch a YouTube video, but for many Americans, particularly seniors and adults with disabilities, using a computer or the Internet is an enigma that materially affects their ability to find jobs and access numerous social and health benefits.
Community Technology Network (CTN) is changing that.
The San Francisco-based nonprofit that hosts programs to support and enhance digital literacy in the Bay Area’s most vulnerable neighborhoods has partnered with the Department of Technology (DT) and the Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) to deploy over 200 Hewlett Packard TouchSmart computers at over 50 locations that serve seniors and adults with disabilities. The computer deployment is part of the National Telecommunication Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) designed to promote digital inclusion and access to broadband in under-served communities around the country.
CTN bridges the digital divide by training volunteers to apply the technology and computer skills they use every day by working 1-on-1 with clients or teaching classes on tools like email, Microsoft Word, and Facebook. These teaching opportunities transform lives in the simplest yet most profound ways, and allow volunteers to develop leadership skills, while making a tangible impact in "disconnected" communities.
One volunteer, Kyle Warneck, has pulled from his tech expertise as Product Manager for SurveyMonkey to teach introductory social media classes on Saturday mornings for the last four years.
“Volunteering with CTN is a way to use the tech skills I take for granted to benefit a broader community,” says Warneck. “It’s a great feeling when a student learns how to use a computer to solve a problem that's been troubling them. Like when someone who's been walking around looking for work or an apartment learns how to use Craigslist.”
CTN further promotes digital inclusion by building the capacity of community-based organizations and nonprofits that serve the "disconnected." Leveraging the expertise of leading technology companies like Google and Salesforce, CTN hosts a monthly Tech Teach-In that demystifies tools like Analytics and donor databases for nonprofits. These 1-on-1 workshops help teach nonprofit staff how to implement these tools to meet their missions.
“We're excited to work with CTN to engage skills-based volunteers in helping nonprofits make better use of online tools and technology,” adds Seth Marbin, Social Responsibility Business Partner at Google. “Our employees are grateful for the opportunity to use their core-skills to help and learn from these organizations as they raise awareness of important social issues, strive to reach more donors, improve their operations and ultimately benefit the community.”
In 2011, CTN volunteers trained more than 1,400 individuals and gave over 1,700 hours promoting digital engagement and inclusion. CTN looks forward to doubling their volunteer recruitment and training hours in 2012. Visit www.ctnbayarea.org to volunteer or donate today.