With our recent expansion into the City of Detroit, human-I-T is committed to ensuring that the city’s residents – the least connected of any large city in the US – have the tools they need to succeed. As a capstone to Digital Inclusion Week 2020 earlier this month, our team was on hand to donate 500 free computers to four local organizations who are on the leading edge of supporting folks most impacted by the digital divide in Detroit.
Our first stop on donation day was to visit JOURNi, a non-profit focused on empowering young Detroiters through tech education and entrepreneurship by providing technical skilling courses, workshops, and other programs. JOURNi Co-Founder and CEO Richard Grundy noted that they had to shift their programming to a remote environment back in March, which presented a challenge for program participants who didn’t have a computer or internet access at home. The 50 Chromebooks donated by human-I-T will ensure that JOURNi can continue to make an impact on Detroit’s youth educational journey.
Next up was Brilliant Detroit. Brilliant Detroit develops Kid Success Neighborhoods, where families with children 0-8 have everything they need to be healthy, stable, and school ready. With “school-ready” and “digitally connected” becoming synonyms now, we were grateful to support this community-focused mission by donating 200 devices to make sure that students don’t fall behind. Brilliant Detroit’s CEO Cindy Eggleton summed up the value of this donation best: “We serve 7,000 people across Detroit, and the number one request is actually having enough devices for families to use them. These devices will be used in our community centers, for after-school tutoring with kids, and to support our GED and adult-learning programs.” We are honored to support such an incredible mission!
After leaving Brilliant Detroit, our team headed over to NPower Detroit. NPower is a national organization with several regional program sites, and their programming focuses on digital training for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities. With another 50 Chromebooks in tow, we delivered to NPower Detroit’s Executive Director, Camille Walker Banks. Walker Banks said that, “these devices are going to mean the world for our classes – in March we were teaching 5 days a week, 4 hours a day, and then COVID hit. Using their phones to complete their courses just wasn’t viable, and now we have an opportunity to scale up our programs even more.”
The last stop of the day was to our friends at the Detroit School for Digital Technology (DSDT). DSDT is a licensed post-secondary technical training school located in a former prison; courses focus on film production, creative visual effects, digital media, and other skills. We were grateful to donate 200 Chromebooks to DSDT to support their programs and enable them to scale the reach of their classes throughout Detroit and beyond. Chief Operating Officer Karlos Harris offered some gratitude of his own for the donation: “We are so thrilled to have human-I-T as a vested community member and we look forward to expanding our relationship even more in the future.”
Digital Inclusion Week in Detroit concluded with a lively fireside chat alongside each of the partner organizations, moderated by the City of Detroit’s Director of Digital Inclusion, Joshua Edmonds. Hosted at DSDT’s fantastic headquarters, the chat served as a capstone to Digital Inclusion Week, a series of events organized by the City of Detroit and Connect313. Connect313 is a city-wide, multi-stakeholder initiative with the bold goal of making Detroit a national model for digital inclusion and ensuring that Detroiters can access the digital world and the opportunity it brings. You can watch the engaging discussion on our YouTube channel.
This incredible day would not have been possible without the gracious support of our local partners. We extend our tremendous gratitude to the General Motors Foundation, the Rocket Community Fund, the McGregor Fund, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies for their collaboration and financial support in empowering us to donate these devices at no cost to the Detroit community. In addition, these partners have provided human-I-T with the resources needed to launch our warehouse space in Detroit which you can read more about here. Bridging the digital divide can’t be done alone – it takes a network of individuals, organizations, and stakeholders working together to provide opportunities.
Our work is only beginning in Detroit, and we are excited to continue to make an impact on Detroiters by providing access to devices, connectivity, digital literacy training, and tech support. Here’s to bridging the digital divide once and for all!