CLEVELAND — The push for digital equality in Cleveland is desperately needed as roughly 30% of Cleveland residents don’t have reliable access to high-speed internet. That's why organizations and companies around the area have been working so hard over the past several months to help fix the problem.
The latest partnership consists of Jumpstart and Verizon kicking off the new ‘Access Tech’ program that is being offered to 1,000 adults in Cleveland.
“Jumpstart has come up with a really creative way to provide access to hardware, to connectivity and to training programs to provide our Cleveland residents with the opportunity to upskill,” said Twyla Turner, Principal of Digital Learning Centers at Jumpstart.
“We provide the opportunity to get technology in your hand, internet in your hand, and then training in programs so you understand how to use your device.”
The best part about the program is that it’s free of charge thanks to funding provided by Verizon.
“Verizon has been involved in promoting and encouraging digital inclusion for over a decade,” said Jessica Cohen, Manager of State Government Affairs at Verizon. “Training is offered at no cost to Cleveland residents and provides career builders, job seekers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses with resources they need to survive in a digital world."
The digital divide has been amplified during the pandemic, as internet access has become a requirement for some of the most basic needs to survive such as ordering food and receiving virtual healthcare.
“It shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s a necessity,” said Turner. “This is so important.
Enrollees in ‘Access Tech’ will receive training on how to use their devices and can sign up for programs to learn cybersecurity and even coding. Even when the program is complete, there’s no need to return the devices. Tech support is included too.
“In addition we are providing software and tech support for participants so as they engage in the program,” said Cohen. “We understand how important internet access and broadband is to society right now. And as we build out our products and our network, we want to encourage and facilitate people being engaged with that network.”
If you or someone you know is interested in the ‘Access Tech’ program, visit atpcleveland.com. And if you’re passing this information to someone without internet access, they can simply call (216) 456-2665.
Roughly 100 people have signed up for the program at the time this article was published. Turner is excited about the interest they’ve received in just a week.
“We’re constantly enrolling every day. And the goal is to reach 1,000 Cleveland residents.”