By Tiffany Hunt, Howard University News Service
Connect.DC is “bridging the digital divide” all over the DC area by providing full technology access, and different digital services to those without computer or internet access.
Connect.DC was created by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) to expand internet access to families in D.C. In DC one out of every four families have internet access, and since these families don’t have access to the internet they can’t afford it, and they most likely don’t know how to utilize it, according toprogram developmentmanager, Michell Morton. It is imperative to know how to utilize the internet in this day in age, that’s why Connect.DC is offering these types of services. Connect.DC wants to be able to fulfill the void of the lack of internet access to low income families, students, elderly people, and just about anyone who wants to become digitally literate. Connect.DC doesn’t just provide full internet access to low-income families, but they also provide different types of classes that range from beginner classes, which is for people who don’t know how to use a computer at all, to teaching people how to use Microsoft, and other software. People are also known to use their services to fill out job applications, take online courses, and reach out to family and friends online.
Connect.DC also has a “Mobile Tech Lab” to make their services more accessible and to provide a space for DC residents to come to. “Sometimes people just like to go learn in a place that’s familiar to them,” said Morton. The mobile tech lab is stationed on a bus and posted at different locations all over the DC area, such as Ward four. Some of the services that are offered include “The Senior Tech Workshop,” for senior citizens. The senior tech workshop teaches skills such as smartphone use, social media use, among others. Overall the goal is to help them “connect with their grandchildren.” The youth aren’t left out. Programs targeted to them include coding skills, learn entrepreneurship skills, and application development. These apps are guided to provide all these different types of services due to their many collaborations with other local nonprofits and companies.
One local nonprofit that Connect.DC works with a lot is Byte Back. Yvette Scorse, the communications director of Byte Back said the collaboration is sucessful due to “overlapping in missions, and their focus on digital inclusion” and overall they both aim to“bridge the digital divide.” Connect.DC has helped Byte Back with promoting campaigns, marketing ideas, advertising, and training. A lot of Byte Back’s exposure comes from their ads that are all over the city, specifically on metro buses. Byte Back has also been able to utilize the mobile tech lab along with Connect.DC. Connect.DC continues to come up with more ways to involve the DC community in becoming digitally literate, so make sure you keep your eyes open for all their programs they have to offer.