CTN’s Home Connect Program at Three Months
This is our story — a three-part recap of how Community Tech Network’s volunteers and employees, supported by leadership from our board members and financial supporters, changed our focus and quickly reengineered our service delivery model.
Our lives continue to be filled with uncertainty, economic concerns, and the ongoing impact of social isolation. After 12 years of success in developing and delivering in-person digital literacy training to older adults and low-income residents of the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas, CTN’s legacy now includes three months of delivering digital connectivity and virtual training to older adult learners sheltering in place.
Home Connect Statistics (as of Monday, August 3, 2020)
Referrals to Home Connect from our partners: 135. Maintaining and expanding partner relationships remains vital to the success of Home Connect. Although we no longer train and support senior learners at partner locations, we rely on our partners to identify Home Connect program candidates by recommending their most vulnerable clients for participation.
Older adults newly connected to home internet: 6. Many of the referred Home Connect candidates live in housing complexes or apartments where internet connectivity is readily available, so they were among the first learners to begin training. For others, the process of obtaining online access was more difficult and time-consuming. Two CTN staff members provide this assistance in English, Spanish, and Cantonese to learner candidates as they navigate the complex connection process.
Devices delivered to Home Connect’s older adult learners: 82. Each Home Connect learner has or is given access to an appropriate digital device for their training that is theirs to keep. Financial contributions from our donors and funding partners allow us to purchase needed devices, while in-kind contributions of refurbished devices are received from various sources.
Number of older adult learners currently working with a trainer or digital coach: 30. Depending on their level of experience and familiarity with their digital device, some learners may progress rapidly through the basic training with a staff trainer or skip the basic sessions and be immediately matched with a volunteer digital coach. This number includes those who are either working through the series of five basic-level sessions or already working through their Learning Pathways with their volunteer digital coach.
Number of Older Adult Learners Completing Basic Training: 46. The number of older adult learners referenced have completed the five basic-level sessions training sessions taught by a staff trainer. They are in the process of being matched with a volunteer Digital Coach so they can begin working through their Learning Pathways.
Total number of hours of instruction delivered: 350. This number combines all training, regardless of whether it is delivered by staff trainers or volunteer digital coaches. Many additional hours of combined staff and volunteer involvement have been required to get us to this point. Home Connect’s design intentionally incorporated a gradual start, allowing for an evolutionary process incorporating improvements and new content. Given our experiences and successes to date, we are looking forward to a rapid expansion of all aspects of Home Connect as we move forward.
We have been able to use our Home Connect success to apply our remote training model in fulfilling a pre-COVID training agreement with CEI (Center for Elders’ Independence) in the San Francisco Bay Area and with Foundation Communities Cardinal Point Properties in Austin. Both CEI and Cardinal Point embraced the remote concept in lieu of in-person training and are helping their learners prepare for virtual training to ensure the safety of both trainers and learners.
Home Connect has become the centerpiece of our service delivery model. While we anticipate being able to eventually return to in-person training, Home Connect provides us with a powerful training alternative employed when older adults with restrictive health conditions or mobility limitations will be better served by remaining in their homes while receiving training.
CTN staff and volunteers take great pride in having made the transition to virtual training and support so quickly and effectively. Though the impetus was the pandemic, Home Connect allows us to fulfill our mission every day by touching the lives of isolated seniors one person at a time. Though the collective impact of our work may be temporarily reduced, the impact we make on the lives of those we touch is immeasurable. A very sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to all our volunteers, financial donors, and board members and to our staff for their part in making this all happen.