NCCU Partnership Delivers Digital Skills in Durham

Graduates of the Computer Basics course at Durham Main Library pose with their certificates.

Kramden joins North Carolina Central University on a community-wide initiative to increase digital equity in Durham. NCCU is the recipient of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Connecting Minority Communities grant. This funding award aims to strengthen communities surrounding Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The grant serves the University and surrounding anchor communities by delivering digital inclusion programming to help residents seek, obtain, and retain employment.

Kramden is a subrecipient of the grant along with Digital Durham, the Durham Public Schools Foundation, the Triangle Nonprofit Volunteer Leadership Center, and Momentum. Kramden’s role has been to provide both devices and digital skills training to residents in qualifying census tracts. Kramden has delivered Computer Basics to 168 Durham residents since the project began in March 2023. 

To reach our goal Kramden has partnered with several organizations serving Durham residents. We have held courses with Durham Libraries, the Hayti Heritage Center, West End Community Foundation and DECI. Classes are offered in English and Spanish to reach more people in need of computer skills. As with all of Kramden’s Computer Basics courses, participants who complete the class receive a refurbished laptop. 

Taking the class earns participants more than a computer. During the course, participants learned the basics of computer use like finding and using programs, managing files, and gaining familiarity with parts of the computer. 90% of students improved their skills in this area. The course introduces participants to the most common computer programs needed in the workforce including word processing software and spreadsheets. Participants saw great improvement in this area. Many of them had no familiarity with office programs before the class. Overall, 92% of clients saw improvement in their understanding of word processing programs.

Computer Basics participants also learn how to use the internet and stay safe online. 90% of students said the course improved their ability to avoid scams and hoaxes online. Overall, the course has had a significant impact on participants’ ability to use a computer for work, education, and social connection. Surveys show that 71% of participants felt confident using a computer upon completion of the class.

In the next phase of the project, Kramden will begin inviting course graduates to continue building their skills with online classes. Kramden uses Northstar curriculum developed by Literacy Minnesota to teach people how to use some of the most common computer programs needed for work or school. The Northstar curriculum also offers certifications that can be earned through online skills tests. Kramden has been teaching the Northstar program since 2020 and participants have earned more than 700 certificates.