by Matt Spence in Giving
Closing the digital divide
Recently the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay was the only community foundation invited to the White House for a discussion on digital broadband access for everyone in the country. Led by the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Megan Smith, the Digital Inclusion Summit gathered leading voices from throughout the country and across industries to spark conversation and collaboration.Participants included representatives from banking, telecommunications, public institutions and government agencies, nonprofits and private funders.
The conversation centered on the three-legged stool of digital inclusion:
Access to broadband
Digital literacy through skills training and technology support.
All three components are critical to achieving the goal of the “last mile” of digital access for all Americans. It was stressed repeatedly that the straightforward strategies which were successful in getting 80% of our nation online won't necessarily work to complete universal access.
Local efforts adapted to local community realities are the critical component necessary to make it happen, and that is where community foundations can be instrumental to success.
Expanding access is critical. If 80% of job applications and over 80% of college applications are online, is it any wonder that job seekers find employment seven weeks faster if they have internet access at home?
Many federal, state and local benefits require online registration. Schools are increasingly demanding digital access in order to complete homework and projects. Digital inclusion is imperative in 2016, and community foundations like ours have an opportunity to be part of the solution.
Grants to programs like Computer Mentors, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA’s, libraries and other digital access points are one major piece of ensuring the Tampa Bay area leads the way in digital inclusion.