Every first week of October is a very special time here at Human-I-T. This period known as Digital Inclusion Week, encourages local governments, businesses, and nonprofits all over the country to take time and reflect on the necessity of digital inclusion for building a healthy society.
At Human-I-T, we’ve always equated access to technology with access to opportunity itself. So, when new companies, governments, and other organizations choose to participate in the festivities and promote digital equity, it shows that more and more people agree with us that access to technology is a right, not a privilege.
That being said, we were thrilled with how this year’s Digital Inclusion Week went, for a lot of reasons. For starters, we got to spend our time during Digital Inclusion Week doing what we do most of the time: getting out into our community and directly empowering people in-need with the resources they need to thrive in the digital age, and spreading the word about digital inclusion.
At the beginning of the week, our Co-Founder, James Jack, was a part of a panel discussion on e-waste policy hosted in collaboration by Connect313 and the City of Detroit’s Office of Digital Inclusion.
Later that week, 15 participants of a Metro Detroit Youth Club came and toured our facility in Focus:HOPE before receiving one Chromebook each. During the tour, they learned about the role a circular economy plays in protecting the environment and keeping valuable resources inside the city of Detroit.
Just a few days later, we gathered at Marygrove College with members from a variety of community-based organizations to discuss how having access to technology allows people to pursue their dreams and unlock their full potential before giving out 108 laptops to the people in attendance so they could do exactly that. Human-I-T also committed during this event to provide 80 more devices to various community organizations throughout Detroit.
The organizations in attendance at this distribution included Code313, Detroit Food Academy Julie Wainwright, Detroit Edison Public School Academy, The Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Ray of Hope.
Additionally, this year’s Digital Inclusion Week marked the end of our Empowering Digital Detroit (EDD) initiative. This initiative was launched back in May as a partnership between Human-I-T, Connect 313, and the City of Detroit’s Office of Digital Inclusion, with a goal of bolstering a circular economic model in Detroit by diverting 500,000 pounds of e-waste from the local business community and using that donated technology to empower 1,000 Detroit families with digital access.
As of the end of Digital Inclusion Week, we’re on-track to divert 500,000 pounds of e-waste and distribute over 1,700 devices by the end of the year.
It is because of the support from our partners within the Detroit business community, the Detroit government, and various Detroit nonprofits and community-based organizations that this initiative was so successful.
Of course, it comes as no surprise to us that local businesses in Detroit would rise to the occasion and promote the health and wellbeing of their community. After all, the support of Detroit-based businesses and organizations like General Motors and Rocket Community Fund made our work in Detroit possible.
They gave us the initial funding to set up our warehouse in Detroit and then connected us to various groups throughout the city to ensure we had the resources and support we needed to answer the unprecedented demand for digital access that Detroiters felt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of their initial support, tens of thousands of Detroiters gained access to the digital resources, skills training, and support they need to uncover new opportunities and unlock their full potential.
Thank you, again, to General Motors and Rocket Community Fund for supporting our work to promote digital equity in the Motor City over this past year. We’re also excited to announce that General Motors has provided $1.25 million to support our programs in 2022, and Rocket Community Fund has committed $1 million over the next 3 years.
With continued support from partners like these, as well as the support of the city government and community-based organizations, we’re more confident than ever in our ability to help Detroit become a national model of digital inclusion.
Together, we’re going to create a more sustainable, equitable world, one where everyone has equal access to opportunities.