The City of Boston is partnering with OpenAirBoston to help
low-income residents acquire the digital literacy skills needed for today’s technology-driven society through the Technology Goes Home (TGH) training program. This school-based family computer distribution and education initiative offers digital literacy training to students and their families across 52 public middle and high schools. Through March 2012, approximately 5,000participants have taken part in the program and earned a free netbook computer, and more than 300 families acquired new broadband subscriptions.
Through the TGH program, new users receive 15 hours of classroom training on a variety of topics, including computer basics, resume creation, and job searches. The program also offers classes on financial literacy, helping students and parents understand everything from credit cards to home mortgages.
In post-class surveys, 88 percent of adult program participants say they are likely to use online resources for job searches, and 80 percent are more likely to use online resources for banking. Additionally, the city has seen how TGH strengthens parents’ connections to school, each other, and their children. Sixty-four percent of English-speaking parents and 80 percent of non-English-speaking parents indicated that they had never participated in their child’s school before TGH. After completing the program, 98 percent of parents said they planned to become more involved with their children’s school.
TGH also makes acquiring digital literacy skills accessible to several underserved populations. For example, TGH provides blind students and their families with new Internet-based tools and applications that help them interact with the world. Additionally, TGH offers classes in eight different languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Somali, and Haitian Creole. The program helps families integrate into their communities, providing them with a supportive network to help navigate parenting challenges. For example, parents in the Somali refugee community told program trainers that they felt disconnected from their children after coming to the United States. Enrolling in TGH helped them to better understand their children’s experiences and connect with them using technology.