Digital Equity Pilot Program
In 2012, the City's IT and Civil Rights departments developed a pilot program with Build Wealth Minnesota to bridge the digital divide and address the employment gap in the city.
Ten Minneapolis families who didn't have computer and Internet access at home received free computers, one year of free Internet access and computer training. The new program is part of a partnership between the City of Minneapolis, Build Wealth Minnesota, PCs for People, USI Wireless, the University of Minnesota Broadband Access Project, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
A recent City of Minneapolis survey found that while 82 percent of City households have computers with Internet access, only 57 percent of Phillips neighborhood residents and 65 percent of Near North residents have access at home. The survey also found that 25 percent of African Americans reported that they don’t have Internet access at home.
The City of Minneapolis and Build Wealth Minnesota are providing the funding for this program while PCs for People is providing the hardware, software and technical support. Build Wealth Minnesota is also working with each of the 10 families on long-term personal development to establish goals and track progress. The computers are being provided at no-cost to the families for their participation in the year-long training program.
USI Wireless is donating 12 months of Internet service and the University of Minnesota Broadband Access Project is providing computer training and digital literacy skills to the program’s participants. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will also help program participants learn how to use computers and the Internet to search for jobs and gain employment.
To qualify for this program, the families needed to reside in Minneapolis, be currently unemployed or underemployed while actively seeking employment, not have computer/Internet access at home, and live in a residence capable of connecting with USI Wireless Internet service. Families who are interested in participating in this program in the future should contact Build Wealth Minnesota.
- May 2012: Program concept developed between IT, Civil Rights, and Build Wealth
- June – July 2012: Program partners confirmed: PCs for People, U of M Broadband Access Project, Minneapolis Workforce Center (DEED), sponsorship from CPED, and USIW.
- August 2012: Program launch event, families received their computers
- September 2012: USI Wireless Internet set up in households
- September – October: Digital Literacy Training and Northstar Digital Literacy Assessments
- October 27, 2012: Focus group with families to review and gather feedback
- January 2013: Check in for additional training requests
- August 2013: Feedback from Families
- August 17, 2013: Program Year in Review and Celebration!
Published Aug. 8, 2012