Community Tech Network is excited to be awarded the COVID-19 Response Digital Equity Project of the Year for Senior Support from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA). Every year, the NATOA’s Community Broadband and Digital Equity Awards recognize innovative programs that bring the benefits of technology to American communities nationwide. CTN and fellow award recipients will be highlighted at NATOA’s 2021 Annual Conference, to be held virtually September 21 – 23.
“The COVID crisis has demonstrated how critical local governments are to providing access to our most vulnerable communities, whether it be building infrastructure in underserved neighborhoods, distributing devices to support distance learning, or training isolated seniors,” says NATOA president Brian Roberts. “The innovative and essential projects we are recognizing show how communities are stepping in to advance digital equity and fill broadband connectivity gaps.”
New in 2021, the COVID-19 Response Digital Equity Project of the Year award recognizes CTN’s innovative Home Connect and Train-the-Trainer programs. In the initial COVID-19 surge, CTN quickly shifted our digital literacy training programs — traditionally held in senior centers, housing developments, and libraries — to a virtual format. The new program, dubbed Home Connect, provides clients with access to low-cost broadband, a customized device configured to their needs, and remote training via five digital literacy classes. Since April 2020, we have received 596 program referrals, distributed 465 devices, and connected 72 participants to their home internet.
The success of the Home Connect program also led us to partner with organizations across the country that have the staff to offer training but lack a curriculum suitable for their clients. To date, our Train-the-Trainer programming has helped eight organizations implement digital literacy programs in their communities — providing staff and volunteer training as well as customized curricula in six languages.
Throughout the pandemic, it has become clear that digital skills and internet access are essential to participating in everyday life. CTN’s programs have helped communities on the margins get online while staying safe. We are excited to be one of few organizations recognized for our efforts, and we look forward to expanding our impact in the year to come!