Fall 2014 Update – Our Digital Inclusion Efforts

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Family Computer Day at the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council.

Throughout the summer of 2014 we’ve continued to bring our digital life skills classes to people in Kansas City’s under resourced urban core neighborhoods.  In the last few months we introduced Family Computer Days which have been held at inner city neighborhood centers, churches and schools. After the classes, participants can take home a PC for as low as $75.00. By the end of this year, we expect to have trained over 2,000 people, 25% of whom have never used a computer.

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Digital Life Skills classes at the Reconciliation Services Internet Cafe

We’ve partnered with Reconciliation Services to create the first public computing space on Troost Avenue. With the Internet Cafe up and running at 31st & Troost, we are conducting  digital literacy classes there twice a week with growing attendance. Additional activities are offered to provide people in this central inner city neighborhood access to free computer time and other career and learning opportunities.

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Teens use the PCs at our KCK Community Technology Center

Our NE Wyandotte County Community Technology Center is serving the Juniper Gardens housing project and surrounding community in partnership with the Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority. Since we opened the 20 seat public access computer lab in March 2014, 1100 adults ages 19 to 80 have used the facility to take advantage of classes and open lab time.  About 75% of the adults who come are women, most of whom are seeking employment opportunities online. Additionally, almost 700 teens and preteens have come to do homework, social networking and online games. We are privileged to provide an important service to residents in this needy neighborhood who don’t own computers or have in-home Internet.

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Interns from the Cristo Rey Kansas City assist daily in our programs

This school year, we have been serving as a site for the Corporate Work Study Program of Cristo Rey Kansas City. It is a Catholic high school that serves under resourced urban core students. These interns are learning valuable work skills as they assist in tutoring people who come to our community technology center and get involved with PC refurbishing and other aspects of our operations.

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Everet Leimer works in our PC refurbishing shop at 2006 N 3rd Street

In September we finalized the consolidation of our PC refurbishing operations to our Kansas City KS center. The workshop is now producing about 200 high quality, Internet-ready computers a month. 80% of them have gone to low income families and 20% have gone to cash-strapped nonprofit organizations.  We are providing low cost computers to people in our community and at the same time these efforts produce about 40% of our operating revenue.

We need your contributions to continue our work to get more KC residents online. Won’t you help?




 

 

 

04. October 2014 by Michael Liimatta

Grandmas are Getting Inner City Kids Connected

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We did some number crunching recently in order to learn more about who has been coming to our free digital life skills classes and taking home our $50 refurbished computers.

Here’s a little more information about who we are reaching through our free digital life skills classes: 

  • 25% have never used a computer
  • 75% are over 50 years old
  • 80% are minorities, predominantly African American
  • 75% have incomes of under $20,000 a year
  • 90% purchased a computer from us after taking the free classes
  • 2/3 of participants in the free classes are women
  • 1/2 of women 60+ have a child under 18 living with them

It turns out a large majority of them are black women over 50 years old. Most have kids under 18 years old living with them.

As they always have, it’s women who are looking out for the minority community – especially the children. They are doing it by getting themselves up to speed with the online world.

At the same time, thanks to our refurbishing program, they are taking home low cost, high quality computers.  By doing so, they’re making sure those kids who live with them have an Internet-connected PC in the home so they won’t get left behind.

Why is this so significant? In the Kansas City Public Schools, 70% of school children do not have the Internet in their homes. Many of these women live in neighborhoods where as little as 20% of families even own a computer or have in home Internet.

Think about it.  They are not waiting for some new government program to get themselves and the kids who live with them connected to the online world.  They are taking the initiative themselves!

They are defying all of the research which shows that older, lower income people and minorities are not getting online.  Why? It’s because they want to see that inner city kids in their care have the same advantages afforded by being a part of the online world that their suburban counterparts enjoy!

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In 2013. Connecting for Good trained over 1,000 people from under served inner city neighborhoods in basic computer skills like how to use email and how to search the web. And we are on track this year to reach twice that many. Since last April, nearly 2,000 of our refurbished computers have found their way to homes in Kansas City’s under resourced inner city neighborhoods. As illustrated in the above map from the last US Census, most of our PCs are going to neighborhoods where as little as 20% of households have computers and Internet access.

We receive no government money or large foundation grants. Most of our income is dependent on our own income generating activities and the support of friends who believe as we do that accessible technology can transform lives.

Currently, we are in the midst of a severe summer cash crunch.  We need your support at this time to help us to keep helping under served people become productive Internet users.

Together, we can close the Digital Divide In Kansas City!

 
 

04. August 2014 by Michael Liimatta

We Love Our Interns!

Analysia assists a senior citizen in one of our free digital life skills classes.

Analysia assists a senior citizen in one of our free digital life skills classes.

Connecting for Good internships are life changing experiences where young people have a unique firsthand opportunity to see how access to technology is improving the lives of people of all ages who live in under served inner city neighborhoods.

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Brandon and Brianna at work in our new PC refurbishing shop in Kansas City KS

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Sylvia, Analysia and Brianna are interns through the American Indian Council.

Our AIC interns are primarily working at our Kansas Center. Sylvia is a student at Alta Vista High School and  is involved with training and one-on-one mentoring, especially with older adults. It’s a great experience for her since she is planning to pursue a career in education. Analysia goes to Sumner Academy and has her sights on becoming an engineer one day. She appreciates the fact that she can use her love for technology to help others. She is also involved in our instructional activities and has evolved into one of our best trainers. Brianna is a student at Washington High School. For her, working in the refurbishing shop has been a great experience. Having never worked with computers before, she is learning a lot. She hopes this will give her skills that can be used in a career in the military after she graduates.

deijah2Daejah became involved with a summer internship through the Kauffman Startup Scholars program. She is a graduate of the Southwest Early College Campus and is studying Psychology at Penn Valley Community College. Because she has always been interested in computers, Deijah thought she could learn a lot by working with Connecting for Good.  And she did. In our Kansas City MO PC refurbishing workshop, she learned how to transform donated used PCs into high quality low cost computers that go to under resourced people.  This involves checking out all the components, completely wiping the hard drives and installing new operating systems and other software. Daejah says, “I learned a lot more than I expected – and it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Karita was a great teacher and supervisor.” As for any lasting life lessons, Daejah says she was reminded that nothing is so broken that it can’t be fixed and made useful somehow.  An interesting observation for a future psychologist.

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Brandon is on his way to his sophomore year in Electrical Engineering at Kansas State University.  He, too, got involved in a summer internship through the Kauffman Startup Scholars program.  Technology is his passion so working at Connecting for Good seemed like a good fit. Until he came to work in our newest PC refurbishing workshop at our NE Wyandotte Co. Community Technology Center, Brandon had never taken apart a computer.  For him it’s been a great learning experience and one that will surely help him in his college studies and career. Brandon says there have been many meaningful experiences during his internship. He mentions one in particular; having the opportunity to get  tasks assigned to him and then being entrusted with executing them from beginning to end.  He came on board just as the new shop was being developed and has contributed significantly to its success.Preheim

Instead of going directly into the workforce after graduating with a degree in Computer Science from Bethel College, Ben decided to do a year of community service with Mennonite Voluntary Services.bThough he studied programming, he had never spent much time working on computer hardware.  So, he is excited about all that he learned while working in our PC refurbishing operations. However, he didn’t stay there.  He has been involved in everything from teaching classes to installing Wi-Fi networks and computer labs.  “Never a dull moment around here” he says. Besides the tech skills he learned over the past year, he feels much more prepared to enter the workplace thanks to the many great experiences he’s had. He is especially happy to have learned a lot more about the nonprofit world and appreciates the opportunity to use his knowledge to help people

We are in the midst of a summer cash flow crunch and need 100 friends to donate $50 to help us through this challenging time. Connecting for Good needs your help now to keep our interns and staff members working with people in our community who need technology access!


 

26. July 2014 by Michael Liimatta

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