After a successful first year, Google Fiber — in partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network — has announced its second round of Digital Inclusion Fellows.
As part of the program, fellows will create and lead digital literacy efforts in the 11 metro areas with Google Fiber, including Kansas City. Initiatives include assisting adults with high school equivalency preparation or GED online, helping job-seekers learn digital workplace skills and teaching parents how to digitally access their children’s grades.
In its first year, the Kansas City fellowship made significant inroads in digital literacy efforts, according to Google Fiber. Fellows Eze Redwood and Leslie Scott trained more than 620 residents on basic computing skills through Literacy Kansas City and the Full Employment Council, respectively. Fellows also trained staff and volunteers to become instructors.
This year, Kansas City’s two new fellows are Sarah Bell from Literacy KC and Wendy Pearson from the Kansas City Public Library.
These programs, along with the rest of the fellowship, will be supported by Google Fiber’s allocation of roughly $1 million to cover initiative expenses and fellows’ salaries.
Kansas City especially faces a larger challenge to increase digital inclusion. Kansas City, Kan. is the seventh least connected city in the U.S., and across the Kansas City metro, 70 percent of students have no internet at home, according to Connecting for Good.
The announcement of the program’s newest members coincided with the release of its first digital inclusion toolkit, which features case studies from three Google Fiber metros, along with suggestions and resources for increasing digital literacy beyond the fellowship.
Each community and organization that worked with the Digital Inclusion Fellowship met different objectives, according to the fellowship’s senior digital inclusion manager Leana Mayzlina, but there were many common findings and challenges.
Mayzlina noted in the toolkit an array of issues affecting the success of its efforts, including integrating digital literacy, assessing community needs, identifying partners around digital literacy and building awareness.