Uhunoma Edamwen has worked to address the digital divide from every angle: as a journalist, as a researcher, and even as a federal government official. Now he’s brought his talents and passion to Community Tech Network.
Uhunoma attended college at the University of Virginia, where he majored in media studies and public policy. He says: “It was during undergrad that I first started taking coursework about internet policy and realized how important digital inclusion is as a social justice issue. Once exposed, I knew that I wanted to work in the field of digital equity.”
Uhunoma then attended George Mason University, where he received his MPA. His research focused primarily on broadband and internet policy. While in graduate school, he also worked as a journalist covering tech policy and wrote stories about digital inclusion and digital redlining, as well as federal broadband initiatives such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Then Uhunoma worked for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and was able to support the federal government as it launched its Internet for All initiatives.
However, Uhunoma eventually decided that he wanted to work “more directly with the people,” as he believes that “community voices will shape digital equity in this decade.” As a result, he joined Community Tech Network. When asked why he wanted to be part of CTN, he says: “CTN is on the frontlines of making change. Having seen different organizations, I think CTN best embodies what needs to happen in digital equity work. We meet learners where they are, and we recognize the different structures and elements in place that may prevent people from accessing the internet. We also develop trust with the community and provide services in a holistic way that addresses cultural and linguistic diversity. CTN has an equity-based mindset, and its curriculum and inclusive approach make the organization a leader in the digital equity space.”
As CTN’s Digital Equity Program coordinator, Uhunoma will be responsible for managing our involvement in the Connections, Health, Aging, and Technology (CHAT) program, which is sponsored by the California Department of Aging. Through this program, CTN is providing personalized digital skills training to 500 individuals. Uhunoma’s duties with the CHAT program involve assigning instructors to learners and working with referral agencies to get people enrolled. Uhunoma is also supporting CTN’s Home Connect program, which provides remote digital literacy instruction. He says: “I work with contractors to make sure that learners get their devices, welcome packets, and training. I ensure that people are getting what they need, and I let them know that we are here to support them.”
Going forward, Uhunoma has many hopes for the future of digital equity. “By 2030, I hope that we can cut the number of people offline in half. More organizations are beginning to focus on digital equity work, and states are developing plans and initiatives to address digital inclusion. There is also federal money coming down. I think all of this is coalescing to create a more robust digital equity ecosystem. I think that there will be more digital navigators in the future, and more program managers like me doing this type of work. There must also be more research and data. We need to know where we may still be leaving people behind. This work is not done yet: there’s a lot more to do, and we need to know what’s working and what’s not.”
Uhunoma also has impressive personal goals. “My passion is public service. I want to continue to learn more about the communities that we are working with so I can best understand what is useful to these communities. I also want to use my voice to promote CTN’s work. And overall, I want to continue to develop myself as a leader in digital equity.”