Executive Summary and Overview
Upstate New York is one of the poorest regions in the United States, with several of its cities ranking over half its population under the poverty level, according to the New York State Poverty Report. According to a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, at least half of all children in Syracuse, Rochester and Schenectady live in poverty, rates much higher than in New York City where 29.8 percent of children live below the federal poverty line. With these percentages, Upstate New York is one of the most underserved communities in the US. Internet access still has not reached many areas of the state and many people do not have ready access to a computer. The ‘digital divide’ between the urban and rural communities has caused the government to view the problem as the ‘haves and have nots’ (the problem, however, is much larger than that).The lack of access and education about Information and Communication technologies makes this a prime area for our organization to provide some of the residents of Upstate New York with the educational opportunities to better empower and educate themselves by learning ICT skills that will help them prepare to become contributing citizens of their communities.
Our organization believes in providing ICT support and education, through workshops, classes, mentoring, and one-on-one support to underserved rural communities in Upstate New York. We aim to minimize the ‘digital divide’ in low income, rural areas that do not have ready access to ICTs as well as foster a sense of empowerment within the community’s members.
Goals and Objectives
To provide ICT support and education to the members of rural, lower income communities that do not have access to the Internet.
1- Through workshops and classes.
2-Through providing safe and comfortable areas where members can ask questions and be able to use technologies like computers with the guidance and support of the staff.
3- Through programs and grants (like the Obama Administration’s efforts to bridge the ‘digital divide’) where the NGO may receive funding for additional programs and classes.
Use education as a means of understanding the extent of the digital divide in specific Upstate New York communities and introduce new technologies into the educational institutions.
1- Work with schools, colleges, and universities to understand how they educate their student population on digital technologies and ICTs. Determine what technologies are already available to students.
2- Help schools, colleges and universities apply for and spend grant money on emerging technologies. Help to educate students on the technologies introduced.
Work to build relationships with local public libraries to provide the tools they need to create opportunities for access to Internet and technologies.
1- Help libraries in their fundraising efforts to write and submit grants for funding in areas of technology and free and open access.
2- Provide support for library programming by building relationships between libraries and local technology experts.
3- Provide professional development opportunities for libraries to familiarize themselves with new and emerging technologies.
Design and implement MOOCs focused on digital literacy for underserved areas of Upstate NY.
1- Provide students of all ages with access to massive online open courses, by creating courses that support the ICT and technology needs and interests of local populations.
2- Create “MOOC access points” at local libraries and community colleges where students can access the Internet for free, during a time that fits their schedule in order to complete the course.
According to the article “Broadband Availability in New York State,” published by the New York State Broadband Program Office, over 1.1 million New Yorkers do not have access to broadband internet. With such a large number of New Yorkers who do not have the ability to access information or possess the knowledge of ICT technologies, this portion of the population is disenfranchised and in need of education and support in the technical field. According to an article in the New York Times, entitled “Most of the US is Wired, but Millions aren’t Plugged In,” the Obama Administration allocated over $7 billion dollars in an effort to provide American households with internet access (one of the largest complaints being people were too ‘uncomfortable’ with the idea of using the Internet and another being it was too expensive). The US government has recognized the need to provide its citizens with access to the Internet. The goal of our organization is to streamline this process and provide additional support to promote the education of ICT technologies to Upstate New Yorkers.
Our NGO will utilize grants, donations, and advertising opportunities in order to best serve Upstate New York in its efforts to access digital equality. Funding will be used to support the development of activities and programs, such as MOOCs and Professional Development opportunities for librarians, as outlined in our goals.
3-The Rockefeller Foundation has a searchable Grant database
4- InfoDev Grants offered through the World Bank
“New York State Poverty Report.” New York State Community Action Association, Mar. 2013. Web. 10 July 2014.
Parrott, James. Pulling Apart: The Continued Impact of Polarization on New York State. Rep. Fiscal Policy Institute, Nov. 2012. Web. 10 July 2014.
Wyatt, Edward. “Most of the US Is Wired, But Millions Aren’t Plugged In.”New York Times. N.p., 18 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 July 2014.