BTOP in Action
Connect Arkansas held a variety of digital literacy and workforce development workshops for more than 445 people across the state. These BTOP-funded workshops were created to boost sustainable broadband adoption through a three-pronged approach, which targets low-income youth, student businesses, and healthcare providers. Connect Arkansas partners with several organizations to provide comprehensive training centered on computer basics, online entrepreneurship, and telehealth communication services.
For example, the University of Arkansas at Monticello provides a three-day technology course for students between kindergarten and the eighth grade, which is sponsored by Connect Arkansas. The course teaches students basic computer skills and Internet fundamentals. The course also educates students on productivity software they can use for homework, reports, and other school-related activities. As an added incentive, participating students who complete the course receive a free refurbished computer through Connect Arkansas. As of October 2011, the University has distributed approximately 130 personal computers.
To increase broadband adoption among teenagers, Connect Arkansas hosts an entrepreneurship training class using in-house resources. During the class, students learn business basics, ecommerce, website development skills, and how to market a business online. Participating students also create a prototype business website as their final project, allowing them to practice their newly acquired business techniques and web design skills. As of October 2011, more than 178 students have participated in this class.
Connect Arkansas also increases broadband usage among healthcare professionals. Through the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS), Connect Arkansas educates medical professionals on using broadband and video conferencing equipment to conduct distance learning and patient visits. These classes complement UAMS’s BTOP project, which is increasing broadband capacity and installing video conferencing equipment at 474 healthcare, medical offices, and research facilities in Arkansas.
Through these classes, Connect Arkansas and its partners have been able to create 10 instructor positions. Funded by BTOP, these employees are responsible for administering these training classes across 57 Arkansas counties.
Last Updated: December 7, 2011
MyWay Village opened computer learning centers in 16 senior citizen housing communities across Northern Illinois after receiving BTOP funds. These centers are supporting a statewide initiative to provide affordable Internet and computer skills training to low-income seniors. Besides access to computer labs, residents also receive free Internet service in their apartments and computer training classes. Residents can attend classes on a variety of topics including computer basics, Internet fundamentals, advanced Internet searching techniques, open office software, and webpage design. As an added incentive, individuals who complete 12 hours of training receive a free personal computer.
BTOP funds have allowed the project to create 24 new jobs. Hired as Computer Program Managers, new staff members manage the computer labs and provide instruction for training classes. Additionally, the funds have provided residents with new computers, cameras, scanners, and printers.
The impact of the project can be felt across multiple housing communities. A total of 690 building tenants have enrolled in training classes, with many more scheduled to register. The organization, which is in the process of changing its name to ConnectedLiving, Inc., has helped residents use digital technology to connect with family members and access health information online. The impact of the project is evident at The Grundy Housing Authority, where BTOP funds have drastically changed the lives of the community residents. To experience this impact up close, watch Grundy Housing Authority’s video.
Last Updated: October 17, 2011
Connect Ohio opened its new call center on December 13, 2010. The center is supporting a statewide initiative to provide free computer skills classes at local libraries and community colleges. State residents can obtain class schedules, find local training centers, and learn about their local broadband providers through a customer representative or an automated service.
BTOP funds have allowed Connect Ohio to provide libraries and community colleges with training curriculum, instructors, and public outreach materials. The program uses a variety of interactive and hands-on workshops to teach computer basics, Internet fundamentals, and advanced Internet searching techniques to Ohio’s economically vulnerable residents. Residents who are unable to attend classes in person can also participate in self-paced training courses online via Connect Ohio’s website. A total of 314 residents completed training in January 2011 and more than 1,142 people have registered for classes in February 2011.
Connect Ohio has also launched an innovative outreach campaign to promote the benefits of broadband and its training courses in the community. A subsidiary of Connected Nation, Connect Ohio is also creating a total of 136 new jobs across the state. As of January 2011, Connect Ohio has filled 40 of these positions. To view a collection of Connect Ohio’s PSAs, please visit here.
Last Updated: October 14, 2011.
By late December 2011, Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids: Preparing Tennessee’s Next Generation for Success program distributed approximately 1,400 computers to 76 Boys & Girls Clubs (BGCs) in Tennessee and nine regional sectors of the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), the state’s child welfare agency. These computers are part of the project’s effort to provide computers and training to more than 60,000 disadvantaged youth across the state.
Connected Tennessee’s ultimate goal is to help children with limited access to broadband develop the skills needed for today’s economy. In addition to new workstations, Computers 4 Kids also provides digital literacy classes on a wide variety of subjects, including computer basics, web design, digital photography, digital moviemaking, animation, game design, and web safety. Through this potent combination of computer resources, academic support programs, and broadband awareness, Computer 4 Kids is seeing a drastic increase in home broadband adoption among low-income and minority families.
Last updated: January 4, 2012
The September 16, 2010, grand opening of the Coppin Heights-Rosemont Family Computer Center provided numerous examples of how communities benefit from BTOP projects. The center’s executive director, Dr. York Bradshaw, and University President Dr. Reginald S. Avery hosted the event but local residents were the stars. A ninth-grade Coppin Academy student and a semi-retired resident spoke during the formal program, praising the learning programs at the center including the “Employment and the Internet” training program. The Center will serve a low-income West Baltimore community with a high minority population and will offer 15 training and educational courses. The Center was slated to provide a summer technology camp for elementary and middle school students in summer 2010, and begin to offer other courses at all age levels. To see local news coverage, please visit here.
Last Updated: November 22, 2010
“This is going to open the world to Colton,” said Colton School District Superintendent Linda Johnson, speaking at a September 2010 kick-off event for the Clackamas County (Oregon) Technology Services BTOP project. She went on to present a convincing portrayal of how expanded broadband access will change learning in Colton’s small, rural school district.
According to Ms. Jackson, the school district tried for several years to increase the available bandwidth and each time was stopped by the cost. Ms. Jackson explained that every school district in the county except Colton had access to educational resources that required high bandwidth. She described this as a handicap to both teachers and students, especially as the schools try to teach 21st century knowledge and skills.
Broadband will “enhance student learning, broaden student and community horizons, save taxpayer money, and, in turn, both save and create jobs,” said Ms. Johnson. She noted the following additional benefits in her remarks:
• High-quality video conferencing across the school district, the county, and the state.
• Reliable connectivity to support day-to-day activities such as standards-based testing.
• Cost savings through enhanced use of shared resources.
• Ability to streamline video into classrooms and libraries.
The event included tours of Clackamas Community College to demonstrate how broadband will enhance technology offerings in the county.
Last Updated: January 5, 2011
On January 24, 2011, the County of Crook celebrated the groundbreaking for its new 65-station computer learning center. Representatives from Oregon State University, Central Oregon Community College, Crook County Court, and the Partnership to End Poverty joined county officials to announce the start of construction on the facility that will open in August 2011. In an area hurt by layoffs, the $3.9 million Oregon Open Campus project, funded by BTOP, will allow students to learn necessary computer skills, prepare for college, and better meet the qualifications for working in the local business community. Currently, a total of 87 students are taking community-college-level classes at a temporary facility. These classes cover a wide-range of topics including math basics, writing skills, and business fundamentals. Once the new public computer center is open, the County will offer a mix of community college, upper division university, and professional development/lifelong learning classes for the community. These classes provide community members with the opportunity to advance their education without having to travel out of the community.
In addition, the project used BTOP funds to purchase a 32-foot motor home that it will remodel and open as a mobile computer center. Beginning in summer 2011, instructors will travel to rural areas and teach local communities using the mobile lab’s 12 stations. This lab can also serve as a mobile headquarters for emergency management officials, if necessary. The county has hired six full-time staff as instructors and to run the day-to-day operations of the center and plans to hire additional instructors.
Last Updated: October 17, 2011
Puerto Rico’s broadband Internet service was ranked the slowest after all states and the District of Columbia in a 2008 Communications Workers of America study. Critical Hub Networks’ Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative (PRBI) will reduce this digital divide by connecting the territory to faster and more affordable service. Prior to this initiative, Internet communication had to go through one Internet backbone to the Network Access Point of the Americas (NAP) in Miami, and then go back through the NAP to return information to an Internet user in Puerto Rico. Using its BTOP funds, Critical Hub purchased two additional 10 Gbps undersea fiber-optic cable lines, which will significantly increase Internet capacity for Puerto Rico.
The increased capacity will provide people on the island with connectivity equal to the mainland United States, increasing the opportunity for economic development, job creation, and educational resources. For example, the Center for Internet Augmented Research and Assessment (CIARA) of Florida International University uses the new Internet backbone to establish an exchange point in San Juan as part of its AmericasPath (AMPATH) project, which will allow people in the Caribbean to share knowledge with mainland institutions and participate in more scientific research studies through faster connections. These partnerships will help Puerto Rico transition into a knowledge-based economy.
Last Updated October 17, 2011.
The Deaf Action Center of Louisiana launched a network of videoconferencing stations at the end of July 2010. The center has installed 81 state-of-the-art video-conferencing units in such sites as courts, hospitals, and libraries. These units will link American Sign Language interpreters, working at a central call center or from their homes/offices, with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The project will also provide job skills training for people with hearing disabilities, and training for employers of workers who are deaf. A total of 100 community partner sites, including community anchor institutions such as hospitals, courts, public safety agencies, shelters, schools, and libraries in four states, will benefit from the project.
Last Updated: November 22, 2010
In May 2011, Deltacom, Inc., now an EarthLink Business company, completed Phase II of the Eastern Tennessee Middle Mile Fiber Broadband Project. Extending from Knoxville to Bristol, the 131 miles of newly lit fiber-optic cable is part of a BTOP-funded 544-mile network that will allow high-speed broadband connectivity to more than 34,000 households, 5,000 businesses, and 270 anchor institutions, including educational and healthcare facilities. The network will enable residents, businesses, and service providers to connect to the Internet with speeds up to 10 Gbps.
Phase I of construction wrapped up in March 2011 and included a 343-mile fiber-optic route from Nashville to Knoxville and Knoxville to Chattanooga.
Deltacom will start the final phase of the project in July 2011. This phase includes adding fiber to interconnection points that will bring new Internet connectivity to five underserved counties across East Tennessee. These interconnection points, located in Cookeville, Oak Ridge, Cleveland, Sweetwater, and Morristown, will allow local Internet providers to connect to EarthLink's IP network. Once the network is complete, EarthLink will market its full suite of services including carrier wholesale and retail services, in these new East Tennessee markets.
BTOP funds have also allowed Deltacom to hire vendors which created a total of 56 part-time employees, equivalent to 13 full-time staff members, for construction. Deltacom estimates that it will begin offering Internet service in the project area by December 2011.
Last Updated October 17, 2011.