SARASOTA, FL – According to the 2018 Eighth Broadband Progress Report of the Federation Communications Commission (FCC), while broadband is essential to innovation, jobs and global competitiveness, approximately 19 million Americans lack access to high-speed internet. Having appropriate technology and internet access is vital for obtaining information and job-seeking; in our own community, many low-income adults and students are at a disadvantage because they lack the tools or sufficient access to the internet.
Goodwill Manasota and the Women’s Resource Center have come together to meet this high-priority need. They have launched a pilot program to explore how the collaboration could bridge the digital divide in our region by providing devices, internet service, technology support and digital skills training to low-income women in the region.
“Internet access is necessary for online learning, searching and applying for jobs, registering for unemployment compensation and other government benefit programs, finding health insurance information or securing telehealth services, ordering food and supplies online, and so much more,” said WRC president & CEO Ashley Brown. “The digital divide is particularly relevant at a time when in-person interactions among people are limited and virtual interactions are vital.”
During the pilot stage, up to 10 low-income women referred by and already receiving services from the partner organizations will be connected with this program. The clients will create individualized development plans with a Goodwill GoodPartner Coach and WRC Mentor (or Career Coach), who will work as a team to support the clients throughout the training process. Women’s Resource Center will provide the digital device, local nonprofit Sarasota Technologies User Group (STUG) is donating 10 Microsoft Office licenses, and a Goodwill computer instructor will develop a customized computer training plan that the participants will complete on their new devices.
After participants have successfully completed their training, they will have earned the new device and get to take it home. Instructors will confirm that participants have high-speed internet or assist in securing low cost service through Everyone On or another resource.
What takes this partnership to the next level is the ongoing technical support. The participants will be entitled to Goodwill tech support for six months after receiving their device, ensuring that they are able to access important resources, training opportunities, and more online. Additionally, all graduates will be encouraged to take advantage of other programs at Goodwill and WRC. Both organizations share a goal to equip clients with the tools and skills they need to earn a living wage.
“Goodwill and the Women’s Resource Center are excited for this opportunity to build off of our respective strengths and combine our collective voices to shine a light on a critical need in our community,” said Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky. “Our goal in this effort is to ensure that all individuals have affordable, reliable, high-speed internet and the devices and skills to effectively navigate the digital world.”
For more about Goodwill Manasota, go to www.experiencegoodwill.org. For more about the Women’s Resource Center, go to www.mywrc.org.