1 out of 3 adults are not online:
Thirty percent, or roughly one in three American adults is not a broadband user. This reality holds true for RI. The population of RI (based on the 2010 census) is 1,052,567 of which 224,000 people are under 18 (those over 18 are counted as adults). This means 828,567 residents are adults. Thus, there are approximately 250,000 residents who are non-broadband adopters in Rhode Island. Non adopters are mostly: disabled, elderly, low income and those with English as a Second Language. We estimate that 70% of Rhode Islanders who are non-adopters live in urban areas, like our targets: Central Falls, East Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket.
Why should Rhode Island close the digital divide?
According to the FCC chairman Mr. Genachowski:
"Broadband is our central platform in the 21st century for economic growth, information, and opportunity. Broadband can be the great equalizer - giving every American with an Internet connection access to a world of new opportunities that might previously have been beyond their reach...Offline Americans are missing out on education opportunities, health care opportunities - and, yes - job opportunities. In today's world, you need broadband to find a job, apply for a job, and you need digital skills to keep most of today's jobs...This is why closing the broadband adoption and digital literacy skills gap is critical to the future of our economy. We can't have millions of Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide."
To close the digital divide requires a place-based approach:
Up to now, success in closing the digital divide in RI has been dependent on the strength of a network of volunteer community partners to build the ecosystem of instructors, training sites, and community outreach organizations. When the Digital Literacy program started, the focus was, for the most part, on recruiting separate people and organizations for each of the ecosystem roles. Recently, BBRI has found the most effective community partners are the ones that perform all four roles and focus on one place. For example, we have identified major nodes in our target areas of Central Falls and Pawtucket who are performing all of these roles such as housing authorities, libraries and comprehensive centers like the International Institute of RI. Now we want to build place-based ecosystems beginning with Central Falls and Pawtucket.
The Digital Literacy program has developed four community assets that can be used to help Central Falls and Pawtucket close the digital divide in these cities:
1 An online portal that houses resources for use by the community - the portal is "open access" and does not require a pass code
2 Framework and tools for delivering the basic classes including collateral promotional materials to recruit participants and qualifying assessments to use in qualifying outreach partners and training sites
3 Basic internet curriculum of 4 introductory modules
4 A one day Digital Literacy Instructors Workshop lead by a seasoned training team to train 8 instructors at a time