Meet a Computer Recipient – Gabrielle from NCCU

Since our founding in 2003, Kramden has awarded more than 23,000 computers across North Carolina through our three hardware programs. This has only been possible through the generosity of our supporters and the tireless efforts of our amazing volunteers. As a way of saying ‘Thank You’, we will be sharing the stories of some of the individuals who have been awarded by Kramden.

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Gabrielle* is a Senior at North Carolina Central University studying criminal justice. Growing up, she did not have access to a home computer and would go to the school or local library to complete assignments for school. She continued this routine for her first three years of college, crossing campus every day to use computers in the NCCU library.

In February, Gabrielle and 100 other students taking online classes at NCCU received laptop computers through a partnership between the university and Kramden. Having her own computer for the first time, she told us how much she enjoys the ability to work on school assignments from her apartment rather than trekking across campus.  She now uses the extra time to work on her crafts and wants to learn how to build websites so that she can sell her work online in the future.

 

*Name changed to protect privacy

Kramden Awards Laptops to NCCU Students

 

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) has partnered with the University of North Carolina General Administration and Kramden Institute in an innovative technology partnership that provides selected distance-education and online-degree-seeking students with free refurbished laptops from Durham County Government.

The NCCU Division of Extended Studies selected 100 degree-seeking students currently enrolled in distance-education classes. Along with laptops, students are eligible to receive tech support from the NCCU Information Technology Services Help Desk as long as they are enrolled at the university.

“I’m thrilled to have the resources needed to take advantage of the online classes provided at NCCU – the flexibility of online classes are very helpful,” said Brad Knutson, a freshman criminal justice student from Youngsville, N.C.

“We are excited about the partnership with University of North Carolina General Administration and Kramden Institute,” said Kimberly Phifer-McGhee, director of NCCU Division of Extended Studies. “Receiving a free laptop is a great incentive to our students enrolled in online education programs.”

Recipient selection targeted students who met the following criteria: currently enrolled in distance-education classes, good academic standing and completion of an online application with an essay.

 

“With nearly 400 online degree and certificate programs and over 113,000 students taking online courses last year, the University of North Carolina System is a national leader in online higher education. But for online programs to truly expand access, we need to make sure our students have the equipment and bandwidth to connect,” said Matthew Rascoff, vice president for the Office of Learning Technology and Innovation for the University of North Carolina system.

Rascoff developed the partnership between NCCU and Kramden Institute, a non-profit organization in Research Triangle Park that refurbishes donated computers at low- or no-cost, to bridge the digital divide.

“We are really excited for this step in a new direction for Kramden – this is one of our first partnerships with a university,” said Jason Ricker, Kramden Institute’s director of technical operations. “We are happy to work with NCCU. This will be a great help to students enrolled in online classes.”

“By providing laptops to needy students taking online courses, in partnership with our partners at the Kramden Institute, we are taking a step forward in widening access to excellent higher education opportunities at North Carolina Central University,” Rascoff said.

Original article can be found here

Technology and learning in lower-income families

 

From The Rocky Mount Telegram

Rocky Mount Middle School worked with the Kramden Institute of Durham to give home computers to 48 students on Feb. 4. Kramden Institute is an organization that seeks to provide technology tools and training in order to bridge the digital divide.

Through the Kramden Tech Scholars program, the institute donates computers to students in grades 3-12 who do not have a home computer.

Students are nominated by educators to receive the home computer. The students who receive computers must attend a training session at their school to learn how to operate the computer. Students must also have a parent or guardian take the computer home for them.

There is no cost to the student or their families to receive a computer, and Rocky Mount Middle School only had to pay $250 in shipping costs to have all of the computers shipped from Durham to Rocky Mount.

The Rocky Mount Middle Parent-Teacher-Student Organization covered the cost of shipping.

“The students were instructed today on how to operate their new system,” said Principal Roderick M. Tillery. “Parents were able to take the computers home as an opportunity to increase their digital citizenship,” Tillery stated. “We are able to change the lives of our students through this opportunity,” he added.

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Shelton Jefferies thanked the Kramden Institute for their partnership and explained the importance of the program.

“We know that we are raising a generation of children that are the absolute brightest that we have ever seen. Making sure they have the tools that they need for 21st Century skills is critical. We would like to thank the Kramden Institute for helping us provide this to our students,” Dr. Jefferies said.

Check out the original article here.

 

 

Technology and learning in lower-income families

Opportunity for All report cover

In a recent study, Victoria Rideout and Vikki Katz looked at computer usage and internet adoption by low-income families across the country. Their findings highlight the disparities in access to computer technology and affordable, high-speed internet access at home. 23% of families living at or below the median income level ($64,000 for a family with 1 or more children under 18) only have access to the internet through mobile devices. This number jumps to 33% for families below the poverty level. For those families that do have access to home internet, nearly half report that the service is too-slow or unreliable. Families surveyed for this report indicated that the main reason that they do not own a computer and/or have access to broadband internet is the cost.

The report also looks at what families in low-income households use the internet for. Adults with home internet access use it for a variety of activities including online banking, shopping, connecting with friends and family, reading the news, and applying for jobs. However, families with mobile-only access generally only use the internet to connect with family and friends, missing out on many of the resources available to them. For students a similar pattern emerged. Those with home internet access report much higher rates of internet usage for homework, online learning, and engaging in creative activities than their peers with mobile-only access.

Check out the full report here.

Rideout, V. J. & Katz, V.S. (2016). Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in lower-income families. A report of the Families and Media Project. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

 

Troy DeSpain is Geek of the Week!

 

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Troy DeSpain is Kramden’s Geek of the Week! Troy is a high school senior at Franklin Academy and has been volunteering with Kramden Institute since 2012. Most recently, Troy organized a computer equipment drive at his school and collected 29 desktops, 33 laptops, 19 monitors, and many other peripherals which will support Kramden’s computer programs.

Favorite Geek Website: www.cnet.com

Favorite Geek Movie: Star Wars – The Force Awakens

What is the Geekiest Think About You? I enjoy computer programming and I am taking AP Computer Science this year.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? My favorite thing about volunteering at Kramden is awarding the computers to students. I enjoy teaching them how to use the new software and being able to see how grateful they are to receive a computer.

Best Kramden Moment? The first time I took a computer apart by myself. I had always worked on the software side of computers, so hardware was completely new to me.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? Besides computer programming, I also enjoy photography and playing the piano. My favorite types of photography are landscapes and macro/close-up.

 

 

 

Kramden Institute bridges digital divide with refurbished computers

 
Reposted from Opensource.com

 

Kramden Institute in Durham is dedicated to ensuring that every child in North Carolina has access to technology. Their mission is to provide technology, tools, and training to bridge the digital divide. They collect, refurbish, and present computers to families without computers in their homes.

Kramden’s genesis came as a result of a father and son project that began in 2003. The idea came from Ned Dibner, a middle school student who suggested to his father Mark Dibner that they refurbish old computers and give them to middle school honor roll students in Durham, North Carolina. Kramden’s name comes from “Mark” and “Ned” spelled backwards.

According to their website, Kramden’s impact has been a boon to the students and families across the state, and they’ve awarded more than 19,000 computers to students across 71 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The group partners with schools, non-profits, and military aid organizations, and they estimate that more than 70,000 people have been positively affected by the program’s computers.

Ken VanDine and his daughter Ashlyn volunteer at Kramden Institute. Ken works as a software engineer for Canonical and his daughter is a Girl Scout working on her Girl Scout Silver Award. Father and daughter are passionate about helping those less fortunate to succeed. That’s the open source ethos, and the focus of the Silver Award, which helped inspired Ashlyn to volunteer at Kramden.

Ashlyn scrapping materials

PCs that aren’t suitable to be refurbished are scrapped, and all proceeds go toward supporting Kramden.

Recently I spoke with Ken about how he got involved in open source, and the work he and his daughter are doing with Kramden Institute. “Not every child has access to a computer, or the resources they need to learn to use technology effectively as they grow,” Ken explains. “She feels it’s important for all children to have access to technology—providing a child with a computer and the resources to learn can change a child’s life forever.”

As a child, he had more fun taking his toys apart and putting them back together than actually playing with them. “I got started in open source mostly out of my life-long need to know how things work,” he says. This curiosity continued when he started using his own computer, and he quickly became bored with what the various components did and how they worked together. He was much more curious about the software.

“It was early 1993; my ISP provided shell access to a Unix server for email, gopher, etc. I very quickly found myself spending most of my time logged into that server rather than using Windows apps on my PC,” he says. “I actually called my ISP to chat about what they were running, and a very nice tech there explained the setup and also mentioned this ‘new Linux thing,’ which could be downloaded for free.”

Ken saw that, compared to the price tag of their Solaris systems, a Linux system would be an affordable way to learn about Unix. “I very quickly started installing Slackware from like 40 floppy disks, and never looked back,” he says. He loved learning how the operating system and user space tools worked. “Before long I found myself downloading source code to twiddle with the code,” he adds. “This is not only how I got involved in open source, but discovered my own passion for coding.”

Ken’s love of programming eventually led to a job at Canonical, and then he learned about the Kramden Institute. “At first I was just excited about what they do for so many children,” he says. “It’s truly an amazing organization. After hearing about Kramden, I very quickly signed up to work a Wednesday work night, which was really a blast. Wednesday evening at Kramden is an event to remember. They are incredibly well organized and almost always have a full house. It’s a community of folks that want to help these children; I just fit right in.”

Ken testing monitors

Ken VanDine doing LCD testing.

Kramden’s Tech Scholars program helps students in grades 3-12 who are without a working computer in their homes. Kramden relies on principals, teachers, guidance counselors, and social workers to channel deserving students to them. Kramden Institute offers free technical support to students as long as they are enrolled in school.

Although their primary mission is to help students, Kramden’s Tech Community Partners program is designed to assist other deserving populations being served by nonprofit entities. These computers are available at nominal fees of $50 for a desktop and $100 for a laptop. Like all Kramden computers, they come equipped with Ubermix, a Linux-based system includes LibreOffice, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and dozens of open source programs, such as:

Kramden Institute is staffed by a dedicated team of professionals who have extensive backgrounds with nonprofits and a passion for their work. The core team is assisted by more than 40 volunteers and Kramden Institute’s Board of Directors.

Kramden relies on donations to sustain this incredible social enterprise. Kramden accepts donations from individuals and from businesses. If you have surplus computer equipment, there’s a good chance that Kramden can put it to use.Donating equipment could be tax deductible, and your contribution can help Kramden beneficiaries in North Carolina communities.

Currently the Kramden Institute is raising money to purchase 10 Raspberry Pi computers. Ken says that, along with an intro to programming class, they’ll be hosting a monthly coding activity similar to Code Club or CoderDojo. Many coding clubs expect children to bring their own laptops to participate, but Kramden Institute wants to provide access to such events for children who might not have their own computers, so they’ll be providing workstations in the Kramden classroom. “The Raspberry Pi is an amazing device for children to learn with, and really inspire them to learn to code,” Ken says. “We’ll provide Raspberry Pi devices for the children to use during these events.”

Ken notes that there are many children whose families do not have computers, so they do not grow up with the modern technologies many of us take for granted. “Imagine a middle school child not having access to online resources to do their homework or complete a school project,” Ken says. “This puts that child at a huge disadvantage. Going forward, the life decisions that child makes will likely differ.”

Ken says that children of today will shape technology of the future, but, because not all children will have the resources they need, their future potential will be limited. “All children should have exposure to technology and even some programming,” he says. “Even if the child never decides to become a software engineer, they will have learned valuable problem-solving skills, as well as have a better understanding of how applications are written, which will help them learn to use other applications in the future.”

Thanks to the vision of Mark and Ned Dibner, and the countless staff members and volunteers who are animated by their vision of a more inclusive digital culture, Kramden is providing the helping hand that ensures that no one is left behind. To learn more or to volunteer, visit kramden.org.

 

Originally posted on opensource.com

 

Drone display sets world record

 

 

Joining Hands and Building Community: Digital Inclusion Fellowship Voices

 

When I try to picture what it looks like for a present-day community to “join hands,” so to speak, I often have a hard time seeing how it would happen. Not in an apathetic, “no one cares” sort of way, but I would think there is so much going on within the global community that the micro ones seem to just become backdrops for something else.

As someone who has previously worked in and with youth centers, I know firsthand what a neighborhood group that does work in conjunction with its residents should look like. Nevertheless, I could not imagine what cause or program would bring people together. That’s where the Kramden Institute comes into play. Tasked with giving individuals access to exploring, working with, rebuilding, and distributing computers, The Kramden Institute is a place where community begins to listen to the people living and working within it and their needs, then begins to put into action plans that address those needs.

The work that is done at the Kramden Institute has a direct impact on bridging the digital divide. I had only the smallest idea what Kramden was about before I began my journey with the organization. I knew that refurbishing computers was a major component of the work. What I didn’t know, until I was a part of the team, was that Kramden refurbishes over 3,000 computers per year and has over 2,000 volunteers to help with that process. These volunteers come from all walks of life. Some of them with no technical skills whatsoever, but with a desire to contribute to the cause—bridging the digital divide and making use of computers that would otherwise go to e-waste. Our volunteers have contributed over 20,000 hours to help improve the community, to help provide children with access to the technology they need today. The Kramden Institute is a perfect example of what can happen when a community decides to address an issue. In my eyes, this is something important that I am honored to be a part of.

Through this journey to provide technology for those who need it, Kramden has received and distributed hundreds of thank you letters. Kramden receives thanks from those who receive computer awards; and we thank our supporters and school champions who actually nominate students for the computer award. This is because we know that, without someone in the schools championing the program, awards could not happen. Even further, we recognize that the unsung heroes of this project are the teachers, the counselors, and the social workers who take the time to get to know the students and their needs.

The work done at the Kramden Institute is important work, and not just because of what it provides on a physical level. The Institute requires the people within it to become familiar with different types of people who live in the area. It is important work because it is work that involves the community and assists in its advancement, while also allowing people to gain access to technology and familiarize themselves with the evolving world around them. Even more importantly, it is work that allows us to see the direct impact of gifting someone a computer after it has been refurbished. Seeing the excitement on children’s faces on awards day demonstrates the importance of this work beyond doubt, because it is at that moment when we recognize that everything—every hour, every volunteer, every educator’s effort—has paid off. And that is the moment when we realize that every last one of us would do it all again.

The Kramden Institute, on top of being the means for a community to unite itself over an issue, is also a place where the benefit of that work can be seen and witnessed firsthand. Before I worked with the program, I couldn’t have imagined technology bringing a micro-community together, but it does. Not only that, but it succeeds in making the individuals who work there always feel like we’re working towards a new goal. Every goal we reach is rewarding.

 

Originally posted on NTEN.org

 

Mike Byrd earned his Doctorate in Law at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland Marshall College of Law as well as his Master of Business Administration degree from Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja College of Business Administration. He has over 25 years of business experience in sales, marketing, strategic management, project management, economic development, consumer targeting, interim executive leadership, nonprofit consulting, integration of social media with outreach campaigns, and business development.

In May 2015, NTEN and Google Fiber launched the Digital Inclusion Fellowship, a new national program investing in local communities and nonprofit organizations to address the digital divide. Sixteen Fellows are working this year on projects that include setting up basic computer skills courses, increasing home Internet usage, and volunteer recruitment and training.

 

Broadband adoption rates and gaps in U.S. metropolitan areas

The Brookings Institution
There is no question that the Internet is a huge boon to the economy and society, but maximizing its potential is only possible if all individuals are online. As a result, it is critical that policymakers closely track broadband adoption rates: the share of households with a DSL, cable, fiber optic, mobile broadband, satellite, or fixed wireless subscription.4

Until now, public, private, and civic leaders have frequently concentrated on broadband adoption at a national or international scale, looking at how rates vary across large segments of the population.5 However, new survey questions from the U.S. Census Bureau enable analysis at the metropolitan scale, creating new ways to measure and understand where America falls short in getting people online. This subnational approach is especially important because local and state governments play a lead role in guiding Internet policy, including infrastructure deployment, public outreach, skills development, and affordability programs.6

This brief uses 2013 and 2014 American Community Survey data to track current and changing broadband adoption rates at the metropolitan scale, while using a combination of other Census and Internet speed data to model what factors affect metropolitan adoption rates. In turn, the results of this analysis have clear implications for efforts to address the significant gaps in American Internet adoption.

Further information on the  analytical approach and methods is available in the appendix (see report PDF).

While 75.1 percent of American households had a broadband Internet subscription in 2014, there is enormous variation in U.S. digital connectivity across demographic groups and between metropolitan areas.

In 2014, more than 87 million households—or three-quarters of all households nationally—had a broadband Internet subscription, speaking to the importance of having a reliable, efficient connection to digital information networks across the United States.7 There’s little question broadband has evolved into the defining infrastructure of the 21st century.8

Yet despite its central role in promoting economic prosperity, broadband adoption remains highly uneven among specific groups, limiting opportunity for many people. For example, only 46.8 percent of households with incomes under $20,000 annually had a broadband subscription in 2014, compared to 88.8 percent of households earning $50,000 or more. Likewise, while 54.1 percent of individuals with less than a high school diploma had a broadband subscription, 91.5 percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher did. Relatively low adoption rates also appear among older age groups—64.5 percent of individuals 65 years and older—while those not in the labor force (69.7 percent) subscribe to broadband at marginally lower rates relative to the national average.

Broadband adoption also varies substantially across different U.S. markets, including the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. Although these areas tend to have higher adoption rates (77.8 percent) than the country as a whole (75.1 percent), these rates can still differ by up to 30 percentage points or more in some cases. Tech centers like San Jose (88.2 percent), Seattle (84.8 percent), and Boston (82.7 percent), for instance, far exceed the shares seen in Lakeland (64.1 percent), Greensboro (64 percent), and McAllen (58.1 percent). Table 1 includes the top and bottom performers across all metro areas, demonstrating the enormous range seen across the country. However, as revealed in Figure 2, the level of variation among broader geographical regions in the West, South, and East is less clear, suggesting local dynamics may be a more important indicator of broadband adoption.

Multiple factors—including higher levels of income, educational attainment, and telecommuting—all have a positive and significant effect on broadband adoption rates in metropolitan America.

National surveys—conducted by the Census Bureau, the Pew Research Center, and other organizations—have consistently found large variation in household broadband adoption across many demographic characteristics, including age, income, race, and education.9 While such cross-tabulations provide valuable context, they do not reflect the simultaneous influence of other relevant factors. This brief aims to addresses this shortcoming by developing a regression model to assess those variables of interest while controlling for other factors.10

Consistent with findings from national surveys, the model provides further evidence that income, education, and telecommuting had the largest effects on metropolitan broadband adoption in 2014 (Figure 3). Wealthier and more educated metro areas tend to have higher broadband adoption rates. Specifically, the model estimates a 1 percent increase in either the share of households making over $50,000 annually or individuals with at least a high school diploma is associated with a 0.3 percentage-point increase in metro adoption rates. Telecommuting has an even larger estimated effect, where a 1 percent rise in the share of all commuters working from home is associated with a 1 percentage-point increase in broadband adoption.

 On the other hand, the model failed to find statistically significant evidence of an association between broadband adoption and two traditional demographic indicators of interest. Neither the share of population 65 and older nor the Hispanic share of total population registered a significant effect. In no way do these results contradict the demographic splits found in the ACS and previous surveys. Instead, they suggest top-line findings of earlier surveys may reflect a combination of other underlying factors. Older individuals tend to have lower broadband adoption, for instance, but these modeled results suggest that could be due to lower incomes or less education.11 Yet not all traditional demographic splits were insignificant: The share of black population had a significant and small negative effect on broadband adoption. Overall, these results invite deeper investigation of demographic factors at a more local level.
The model also helps clarify the extent to which local broadband quality, development patterns, and industries can affect adoption rates. While media narratives often suggest deployment of higher-speed networks will boost local subscribership—and current data does show a wide range in average speed across the country—the model finds that faster download speeds are not yet associated with higher subscription rates.12 Instead, the share of a metro’s population living in urban areas is positively associated with adoption rates. This association may speak to a combination of different factors, including greater infrastructure deployment in denser areas, lower costs of service relative to rural areas, and potential network effects from neighbors using computers and the Internet.13 In addition, with broadband connectivity of growing importance to many service-related industries, the share of workers in technology-, management-, and education-focused occupations registered a moderately significant (at the 5 percent level) effect.14 The relative importance of industry was sensitive to model specification, though, suggesting the need for further research into the relationship between occupations and broadband.15 Still, the kinds of jobs people hold and where they live are important indicators of projected subscribership at the metro level.Collectively, the model points to many different factors influencing broadband adoption rates in metro areas in 2014. Markets boasting higher levels of income, educational attainment, and urban density with many tech workers—like Seattle or university towns like Iowa City—tend to have the greatest rates of broadband adoption. On the other hand, markets with lower levels of income, educational attainment, and density with fewer tech workers tend to lag behind in adoption, including places like Memphis and Laredo, Tex. In turn, viewing broadband adoption at a metro scale is often tightly linked to several variables, many of which will need to be examined in greater depth and over longer timeframes to gauge their relative importance.

From 2013 to 2014, the share of households with a broadband Internet subscription rose by 1.7 percentage points nationally, including a statistically significant increase among 58 of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Over the two years the American Community Survey has collected data on broadband adoption, approximately 2.6 million more households gained a broadband Internet subscription in 2014 compared to 2013, driving up the national share from 73.4 percent to 75.1 percent. At the same time, the share of households without a computer dropped from 16.2 percent to 14.9 percent. Collectively, these year-to-year changes point to a growing a reliance on high-speed Internet access—and digital hardware in general—that has resulted in an increased demand for broadband, in line with previous studies.16

However, broadband adoption rates have continued to differ markedly among certain households and individuals, confirming two indicators of significance from the previous finding: income and educational attainment. For instance, while households with annual incomes under $50,000 tended to see their adoption rates increase the most from 2013 (1.8 percentage points), their overall shares remained considerably below households earning more than $50,000 (59.3 percent compared to 88.8 percent). Individuals with less than a high school diploma made similarly high gains—jumping from 51.7 percent to 54.1 percent, or 2.4 percentage points— but they still lagged far behind individuals with a high school diploma or higher (81.6 percent). Although it’s promising to see lower-income and less-educated groups increase their subscribership, these growth rates will need to accelerate even more to achieve adoption across the entire population.

The country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas followed many of these national trends, with most markets seeing a statistically significant increase in broadband adoption. Almost 1.8 million more households in these metro areas had a broadband Internet subscription in 2014 versus 2013, accounting for 68 percent of the entire U.S. gain. While widespread, the largest increases overall were concentrated in the most populated metro areas, including 426,000 more households with a broadband subscription in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle, and Chicago.

In total, 58 of the 100 largest metro areas saw a statistically significant increase in their broadband adoption rates compared to 2013, including 39 metro areas that exceeded the U.S. increase over this span (1.7 percentage points). The biggest gains—of 3 percentage points or more—tended to occur in metro areas with relatively low adoption rates to begin with, such as Fresno (66.1 percent to 71.5 percent), Youngstown (63.6 percent to 68.9 percent), and Tulsa (70 percent to 74.2 percent), which are building off a number of initiatives.17 Nonetheless, significant gains have also taken place in markets with higher adoption rates—those that were above 80 percent or more in 2013—like San Diego, Honolulu, and Ogden, Utah.The 42 remaining metro areas saw little to no change. Many of these markets registered increases under 1 percentage point or less, with 11 other markets seeing a slight and insignificant decline. The largest drops were concentrated in the south, led by Greensboro (4.8 percentage points), Augusta (1.3 percentage points), and Lakeland (1 percentage point). In this way, while many metro areas are recording significant gains in broadband adoption, several others are declining or remain stuck in place, reinforcing the continued need to get more Americans online.

Implications

National and local broadband adoption rates confirm the country’s transition to a digital economy is well underway. Private subscribership rates at the national level continue to grow each year, connecting millions of more Americans to digital information networks. Meanwhile, leading metro areas like San Jose and Washington, D.C. demonstrate how rates have the potential to get even higher around the country.

However, completing the transition to an all-digital economy will be impossible until broadband adoption looks ubiquitous like water and electricity infrastructure.18 And much like electricity development in the 20th century, ensuring every American has reliable online access is a clear 21st century mandate to maintain the country’s global economic preeminence.

The results of this brief begin to sketch a roadmap to get there.

Targeted income assistance programs are a clear priority. Some of these policies will be set at the federal level, including efforts already underway; a reformed Lifeline program and the newly-announced ConnectHome will both improve broadband availability and affordability for low-income households.19 However, regional programs must also address local needs. In addition, there will need to be greater coordination across all government levels with private Internet service providers, most of whom already have a demonstrated commitment to community investment, despite lingering questions over civic transparency.20

Expanding digital skills curricula and training are equally important—and they should extend across entire metro areas.21 Digital literacy classes and training programs, for instance, can help prepare young students for their digital future and offer opportunities for adults to improve their digital skills today. Community assets like libraries are especially important in this respect, by providing public Internet access and representing centers for training.22 Fortunately, the recently-expanded federal eRate program will help communities build capacity at their schools and libraries, in particular.23

Public and private sector employers should also continue to incentivize telecommuting for both broadband and transportation benefits.24 Many of the largest metro areas with the highest broadband adoption rates also have some of the country’s worst roadway congestion—places like Washington, D.C. and San Jose. Telecommuting could both help get more households online and better maximize the transportation capacity already built in these regions.

Finally, continuing development of those federal and local policy roadmaps will also require continued research into broadband adoption. As demonstrated by the wide range in metropolitan adoption rates, it’s especially important to understand the local neighborhoods that drive high or low metropolitan performance, and how other variables may impact neighborhood-scale adoption. Considering the macro importance of getting the entire country online, the results of this study are really just a start.

News & Observer: Kramden Institute Makes Computer Connection

By Corbie Hill, Correspondent
The News & Observer, November 25, 2015