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

Connecting for Good Needs Your Help Now!

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At Connecting for Good, our core belief is that connectivity equals opportunity. Access to the Internet brings with it a chance to apply for jobs online, connections with family and friends, access to virtual library shelves, information about medical and health issues, online education – GED completion and college courses – and a whole lot more. These are resources with the potential to help an under resourced family move toward a healthier, happier and more secure future.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of low income families in our city who are not able to get online.  Mostly it’s because they can’t afford a computer or Internet service.  For many, especially older adults, it’s a matter of intimidation – simply not knowing how get online or how use the Internet.

That’s why we have been working to bridge the Digital Divide since 2011 with wireless networks, low cost refurbished PCs and free digital life skills classes. In the Kansas City metro area, we operate two community technology centers, one on each side of the Kansas/Missouri state line. To extend our outreach, we take our mobile training lab to sites all over the the city.  Our goal is to see that everyone who wants to get online can, regardless of their age, income or disability.

We work to lower the entry point to becoming a productive participant in the online world.In the past year, nearly 1,500 people in under served inner city neighborhoods participated in our free digital life skills classes.

Everyone who completes the sessions learns to set up an email account and to use Internet search engines to find the information they need online.  Those who qualify as low income can then get a high quality refurbished PC for as low as $50.00.

We also help people we work with to find an affordable Internet service provider. And we actually provide a free in-home Wi-Fi connection to about 500 households In three low income housing facilities.

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Learning these basic technology skills and getting an inexpensive PC truly changed the life of a young woman named Sarah. She was a 23 year old single mother who was living on public assistance with two children when we first met her. Knowing she wasn’t providing for her children, she struggled with self-esteem and hopelessness.

With minimal education, no marketable job skills or computer knowledge she was going nowhere fast. Over a period of several months, this young lady attended our basic classes and learned how to use a computer for the first time.

Because of her limited income, it took Sarah four months to pay for her $50 refurbished computer. She did it by taking on odd jobs to earn the money. During this time, we provided her with one-on-one assistance to learn how to apply for jobs and to develop a top notch resume. She also asked for our help with interviewing skills and choosing appropriate attire.

The good news is that she did get an office job and then a promotion within six months of being hired. Besides moving from public assistance to a career, Sarah also completed her GED and is taking college courses on line. All of this happened within the span of just nine months!

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 their taking 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

So we can continue to provide these services, Connecting for Good needs your help now to keep our staff members working in the community!

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.

Won’t you take a few moments to get involved and share about our efforts with your friends?

Together, we can keep changing lives in Kansas City’s urban core by lowing the barriers to becoming a productive digital citizen.

 


 

24. July 2014 by Michael Liimatta

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