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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

Bridging the digital divide, one family at a time

By Francesca “Checka Cee” Rodriguez- Williams, marketing and communication specialist, Inspiredu

Inspiredu’s mission is to help underserved youth develop the skills needed for education and career success through technologybased learning tools and engagement activities with their families, communities and schools in Georgia.   

We focus on the barriers in schools that inhibit student learning due to lack of access to technology. According to Digitunity, 36 million Americans do not have a computer at home, and tens of millions of households do not have enough computers to allow for concurrent use by multiple family members. Individuals in device-deficient households are often unable to access education, telehealth and employment. We work to bridge this digital divide by providing our Learning Spark Initiative to community centers and schools.   

Through our Learning Spark Initiative and school partnerships, Inspiredu facilitates a series of interactive workshops that leverage technology to improve family engagement while also helping families learn strategies to become strong learning partners and responsibly access and utilize digital tools for learning. In 2022, 48% of the families surveyed by Inspiredu have reported that the device they recently received would be the only device in their home. An additional 31% of families surveyed indicated that they have “no home internet access” or “access to internet by cell phone only.” Obviously, these disparities will put this population at a marked disadvantage of their better-connected peers. To combat this inequity, all of Inspiredu’s learning workshops also provide learners with information about affordable internet options for families. 

An additional problem we see is a lack of mentoring for students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas. To address this issue, we’ve started our STEM Pipeline Programming to support the educational pathway in the course. It is not only for students to learn how to design and prototype their own applications, but also for them to engage with corporate professionals from Atlanta’s robust technology hub and learn about potential careers in STEM fields. Corporate partners also host a full-day field trip to showcase their industry and spark interest in STEM careers. 

The other problematic area we see regarding individuals with technology and education is the lack of employment. There are 230,200 unemployed individuals in Georgia, of which at least 75,966 lack foundation digital skills. Inspiredu’s Adult Digital Literacy program initiative positively impacts adult learners who are seeking to better support their children’s academic success or add digital literacy to their own career toolboxes. As a result, we have worked with community partners and individuals to hold over 1,879 workshop learning hours in 2022 alone to help this population bridge the digital divide. 

Inspiredu services families such as the Lopezes, who were all sharing one computer in one household. The Lopezes are a family of four, where Dad works and speaks barely any English but can now learn to navigate the web and learn English. Mom, Yesenia, now has an opportunity to further her education and uses the extra laptop we gave her to fulfill her dream of being in the medical field. Their children, five-year-old Aden and four-year-old Violet, are learning their English alphabet on the app “ABC Mouse” that they access with the tablet we gave to them. 

Participants and families like these—with real world challenges and situations—continue to help drive our mission of digital inclusion, and funders like the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, which gave us a discretionary grant in July, help provide us the tools to realize that mission.

To learn more or to support our work, please visit on our web or Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.

 

This is sponsored content.

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