Texas Connects Coalition has lasting effects on communities

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Public Computer Center with patronsDecember 31, 2013 saw the end of funding for the Texas Connects Coalition (TXC2) project through the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), but the impact of the TXC2 project is enduring.  Partners in this project, Austin Free Net and Technology For All (TFA) placed 1,815 computers into 96 public community centers and libraries in Austin, Houston, San Antonio and the rural areas in between. Through an agreement between the partners and the host centers, the computers will remain on site, and will be used to provide free computer access to patrons.

Providing computers to late-adopters is the first element in bridging the digital divide, but complementing this access with digital literacy training is even more essential. According to a recent report from the Knight Foundation on the state of the digital divide in America, training is of “growing importance” as “the Internet works its way more deeply into the systems that run our lives.”[1]

The TXC2 project made a huge impact on digital literacy training in Texas. Staff held more than 3.63 million hours of computer skills training courses, 1157% of the original goal set at the beginning of the project.  The project helped more than 230,000 people gain the skills, knowledge and abilities to live and thrive in a digital world.

The training increased participants’ abilities to apply practical computer knowledge and internet skills to their daily lives, giving them a higher level of employability and the ability to function better in the digital age.  Staff taught job skills such as Microsoft Office and job placement skills such as resume writing and applying for jobs online. Senior citizens were among many who took advantage of multimedia training to connect with distant family members and friends. Other courses included ESL, GED, college preparatory, and certified training.

Going forward, Technology For All will expand their training offerings beyond the public computer centers to schools, businesses and other organizations, to enable low-income and underserved communities to gain digital literacy and other technology skills.  Whether in the home, in schools, in business or at public computer centers, Technology For All is teaching skills for the digital age.

[1] A modern makeover for discussions on the digital divide, John Horrigan, author, Knight Foundation

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