In 2016, Twitter approved a grant in the amount of $30,000 to Community Technology Network to fund a pilot digital literacy program at Twitter’s NeighborNest. The purpose was to address the needs of parents who lack crucial computer skills as their families transition out of homelessness. They are referred to the NeighborNest’s wraparound services from Compass Family Services, Glide, Hamilton Families, and Raphael House.
CTN offered four basic digital literacy skills workshops in 2016 in English and Spanish. The workshops developed clients’ ability to use a desktop computer to navigate websites safely, conduct job searches, and communicate through email. One of the students who completed the basic computer skills course in Spanish went on to get a job working in a shelter in San Francisco, bringing her closer to her goal of becoming a case manager. Her story is highlighted in this video, which was shared with the community and funders at CTN’s yearly Digital Leaders Awards.
CTN was awarded a second grant of $30,000 to continue digital literacy training at the NeighborNest in 2017. This year, we offered the same basic skills workshops to clients, but we also began a new intermediate-level series dubbed “Beyond the Basics.” Its range of topics included using Word for resumes, navigating the cloud with Google Drive and Docs, getting the most out of mobile devices, and becoming more confident about parenting in the digital age.
This workshop series was quite popular and drew in many more students than usual. In all, 52 clients participated in the digital literacy programming at the NeighborNest! One graduate of the English series had this to say about the classes: “I am taking classes and I am working on my major, so I need all the information to be able to work on my homework … I want to make sure that I use the information provided to be safe when using Internet.” A graduate from the intermediate Spanish workshops reflected on the importance of the digital parents materials: “Now our children need help (with technology), and we need to know the basics to be able to help them.”
This program continues to inform how CTN can best provide digital literacy training to meet the needs of low-income families here in San Francisco and across the country. It gives us insight into conducting outreach, retaining students, and providing relevant instruction. It has also helped us to revise our curriculum for the digital literacy training we provide to residents in low-income family housing sites through the California Advanced Services Fund.
CTN is excited about continuing our work at the NeighborNest and being able to provide relevant technology training to local families to help them advance their goals.