Second Annual Broadband Across Texas Week Success
The Texas Connects Coalition’s (TXC2) second annual Broadband Across Texas Week (June 23-29) celebrated the spread of digital literacy and broadband technology opportunities through TXC2’s public computer centers. The theme of Broadband Across Texas Week, “Learn, Click, Do,” emphasized the free
computer training available at TXC2-sponsored computer centers and the power of digital access and literacy. The event drew more than 25,000 visitors to sites in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and towns in rural Texas.
Broadband Across Texas Week also demonstrated the importance of providing free, public broadband access in every community. The goal of TXC2, as a collaborative project between Austin Free-Net and Technology For All, is to work with community organizations to set up and maintain infrastructure for reliable computer services in under-served communities, opening up new opportunities through broadband accessibility.
The event helped launch a new computer lab at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH). The computer lab at ARCH provides free computer classes for up to 30 people each month, allowing them to utilize resources through the Internet that they were incapable of accessing before.
In Houston, a job fair drew in over 500 people, where they had the opportunity to speak with 31 different employers and representatives from six technical/vocational schools; 21 people were hired on the spot during the event.
At TXC2’s other sites, classes ranged from resume-building and job hunting, to learning how to scan and save documents, creating backup copies in case of disaster, and using tools in business. Other courses engaged users with social media tips that can draw families closer together, much to the satisfaction of attendees eager to find a new lease on life through their growing digital literacy.
The spectrum of attendees was broad, ranging from users who have never touched a computer in their life to young children playing and learning with provided tablets. TXC2 wanted to extend outreach to the community at every level during Broadband Across Texas Week. As a testament to this, some classes were held in both English and Spanish to accommodate as many members of the community as possible.
Technology For All program specialist Betty Heffler said, “In preparation for Broadband Across Texas, I became much more aware of the communication barrier with the Hispanic community. By having my announcements translated into Spanish, I am able to have a class. It is encouraging to see both the youth and their parents learning together.”
Recognition for the success of Broadband Across Texas Week this year goes to the staff of participating sites, partner organizations, and the many volunteers who helped make the event possible.