In 2016, Google Fiber provided 36,000 digital training hours in Kansas City— that’s one-third of the national sum.
This information comes from the tech giant’s inaugural Community Impact report, which was published earlier this month. In the report, Google Fiber assessed the progress the firm has made toward closing the digital divide nationally.
“From the earliest days of Google Fiber through today, we’ve seen the transformational power of local partnerships and how access to super-fast Internet, and all the tools that come with it, can drive progress in communities,” the report states. “Not just for tech hubs and entrepreneurs, but for low-income families, whose access and training has allowed them to leap over the digital divide.”
Thanks to partnerships with both the Housing Authority of Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan., Kansas City area families received not only digital literacy training, but low-cost refurbished computers, free residential Internet services and expanded wifi access.
In addition, Google Fiber has worked closely with Literacy KC, Connecting for Good and Surplus Exchange since the firm came to Kansas City in 2012.
The report also shows that 1,051 Kansas City public housing units and 275 public buildings — including many libraries and schools — were provided free Internet access. On top of that, 281 Kansas City youth participated in Create Your World and Made with Code Programming, both of which are programs supported by Google Fiber with the aim to inspire kids to code.
All of these initiatives align with Google Fiber’s goal to improve access.
“In cities across the U.S., Google Fiber collaborates with local partners and nonprofits to ensure that more people, especially the most digitally divided, have access to the Internet and, as such, opportunities to thrive in an increasingly digital world,” the report said. “This connection, while just one piece of the puzzle, is a huge step in the right direction toward narrowing the digital divide, and a great launchpad for future progress.”
The region has seen an increase of six percent by year in residential internet usage since Google Fiber’s launch.
Despite the community impact, there have been mixed messages surrounding the future of Google Fiber. Just last week, after media reports indicated Google Fiber canceled “hundreds” of area residents’ installations without a specific reason, the tech giant clarified it indeed plans to stay in Kansas City.
This recent news follows a February announcement from Google Fiber that it was beginning to refocus its employees after a leadership change. Although the gigabit provider lost “hundreds” of employees — all of which were reportedly shifted into new roles within Google — the firm insisted it planned to continue expansion in the Kansas City area.