May 8-13 is Digital Inclusion Week

We all like to feel like we belong.

Digital Inclusion Week runs from May 8 to May 13, the week is meant to raise awareness that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, must have access to technologies that can improve their quality of life. For the Connected Nation (CN), that means ensuring that no family, individual or business is left without access to the Internet no matter the economic or geographic constraints that currently limits their access, adoption or use of technology. Connected Nation is a leading technology organization committed to bringing affordable high-speed Internet and broadband-enabled resources to all Americans so no one is left on the wrong side of the “Digital Divide.” They work with public and private partners to help communities, institutions and individuals realize the benefits of today's technology.

“The benefits of having high-speed broadband Internet are enormous, and those who don’t have access to it are at an enormous disadvantage,” said Eric Frederick, Vice President of Community Affairs for CN. Frederick leads the Connected Community Engagement Program, which works to identify where there is a lack of broadband and provides solutions to connecting the community with its community-specific Technology Action Plans. The engagement program staff works directly with local community leaders to help businesses, families, farmers, urban and rural schools and libraries, and others find ways to connect to broadband and improve their communities.

“It’s incredible how beneficial the Internet is to families and businesses. The opportunities are limitless. To leave people out, to leave them without the broadband access that can improve their quality of life or help them improve their education or financial standing is simply wrong,” Frederick said.

Connected Nation’s Digital Works (DW) program goes a step further- addressing job loss or lack of digital literacy- to ensure people adopt the Internet and are able to use it their benefit once it’s available in their area. Digital Works has partnered with more 70 companies nationwide. The program works with each company to determine its current needs and develops classes that meet those needs. Digital Works’ staff also mentors its graduates to address any issues that may arise as they move into the workforce or onboard with a new employer and let them know about new employment opportunities so they can advance their careers.

“We have classes across the United States where people are trained in how to use digital resources or, if they already have a basic understanding, we train them for employer-related needs such as customer service,” Heather Delany, Director of Digital Works, said. “Work-at-home jobs are one the fastest-growing segments of the workforce, and for rural areas, they also can be vital for saving the economy and small communities.”

Connected Nation also works with state governments to provide more accurate data-mapping of where there is a lack of broadband services and gives businesses and community organizations a platform to meet their online training needs through their Drive program. The nonprofit also has a long history of working within states, including most recently Alaska and Utah, to provide technology assessments of school districts by identifying opportunities and challenges for students, parents, and educators. For more information, please visit: www.connectednation.org or follow Connected Nation on Facebook and Twitter.