Although broadband adoption has increased in recent years, one-third of the country is still without home access. With nearly 80-percent of teachers assigning Internet-based homework, a high-speed connection to complete school assignments is a necessity, not an option. We need to ensure that all Americans can easily access broadband internet in their homes. The gap between families that have home access and those that are beholden to free access points must be closed.
Within the next decade, it’s estimated that nearly 80 percent of jobs will require digital skills. Already, more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies, from Walmart and Target to Best Buy, require online job applications.
Last Thursday, Chairman Genachowski and Secretary Donovan announced that HUD will join Connect2Compete’s (C2C) digital literacy coalition of libraries, non-profits, and for-profits as a digital literacy outreach partners. HUD and C2C are currently holding a successful digital literacy training curriculum pilot at HUD sites in Macon, Ga., Cook County, Il., and San Diego, Ca.
HUD serves approximately 4.5 million families across the country. As a coalition member, HUD staff and volunteers will work with public housing authorities, multifamily owners, Native American housing, and other HUD-funded organizations to raise awareness on digital literacy training opportunities and encourage eligible families to register for discounted high-speed Internet and laptops. Chairman Genachowski announced a similar partnership between C2C and the Department of Labor in July.
Ensuring that all Americans gain access to high-speed Internet remains a top priority for the Chairman and the FCC. Just last month, Chairman Genachowski challenged broadband provides and state and municipal community leaders to launch at least one gigabit community in all 50 states by 2015. Implementing the “Gigabit City Challenge” will not only bring ultra-fast Internet speeds to community across the country, but it will also spur research and innovation.
C2C, which aims to eliminate the digital divide by delivering high-speed Internet, computers, and training to all unconnected, low-income Americans, also announced that this spring it will launch a national digital literacy training program at C2C partner facilities across the country in partnership with Best Buy’s Geek Squad. Initial program rollout will take place in Chicago, Il., Detroit, Mi., Miami, Fl., Philadelphia, Pa., St. Paul, Mn., and Washington, D.C. The program will reach 12 cities by summer 2013. The training will teach new computer users how to connect to the Internet, search, and communicate online and will also provide best practices on Internet safety and information on basic PC functionality.