Being one of the nation’s leading digital inclusion organizations is a lot of work. Trying to inspire an increasing number of people to join our drive towards digital equity is even more.
But, even though that’s true, it’s pretty easy (and more effective) to have fun while we do it. Take, for example, what we did recently with LA County during our celebration of Digital Inclusion Week.
Tech Empowerment Day offered LA County students the opportunity to see themselves in the digital world
On October 6, Los Angeles County’s Internal Services Department hosted the county’s first-ever Tech Empowerment Day, as part of its Delete the Divide Initiative. During this event, over 3,200 middle- and high-school students from across Los Angeles County descended on SoFi Stadium to learn from 20 different organizations about the different ways technology can enrich our lives.
“LA County’s Tech Empowerment Day showcased possibility and opportunity,” said Human-I-T’s Senior Government Relations Manager, Shawn Daugherty, who attended this event. “The diversity of companies – ranging from billion-dollar global tech companies to local, digital inclusion nonprofits – highlighted for students the ways they can participate in the digital world.”
For our part, we didn’t want to just tell these young people about what problems we focus on or how we solve them. They were out of school on a Thursday in the stadium where the Rams play – they wanted to have fun, not sit through a lesson. So, that’s what we tried to help them do.
When students came up to our booth, they were met with a challenge: try to upgrade three key components in a computer as fast as you can and, if you’re in the top five fastest times for the day, you’ll win a free laptop. They. were. hooked. Over the course of the day, over 200 students came up and competed in our time trial activity, with many returning multiple times to try and beat their own high score. These time trials went quickly, too; the average recorded upgrade time was just over 90 seconds.
By the end of the event, although exhausted, we were filled with pride knowing what we’d accomplished. For one, we made hundreds of students have fun while learning about an integral part of our process: refurbishing technology – all while they were out of school! We also let these students see firsthand how easy it is to repair technology and keep it usable. Now, maybe one of them might upgrade their computer rather than buy a new one. But, most importantly, we had organically raised awareness for expanding access to digital technology with the future community leaders of Los Angeles County – its students!
“The 2022 Tech Empowerment Day event at SoFi stadium showed the importance of access to technology and other digital inclusion resources across LA County, especially with our youth,” said Human-I-T’s Vice President of Programs, A.J. Middleton, who attended this event. “By driving awareness about Human-I-T and our work to students and other community partners, we can forge new partnerships and continue to push equitable access to technology and opportunities forward in Los Angeles.”
LA County continues to be a leading player in the drive towards digital equity
Of course, Tech Empowerment Day only represents another notch in Los Angeles County’s mission to drive digital equity in its communities. For nearly a decade, local governments in Los Angeles have long been finding creative ways to ensure their constituents have the digital tools, resources, and connectivity they need. After all, it was the City of Los Angeles that partnered with Human-I-T back in 2015 to distribute 10,000 refurbished computers to Angelenos as part of the OurCycle LA program.
LA’s focus on driving digital access makes sense when you think about it: more people able to get online means more people can access City and County resources, connect with friends and family, or discover new interests and opportunities in their area. Put simply: even back then, local governments knew achieving digital equity was a prerequisite for achieving any form of social equity in their communities.
“County leadership has long recognized the importance of digital equity, and Tech Empowerment Day was just one way for students, parents, and teachers to see how the County is working to make good on its promise to connect all residents,” said Daugherty. “We all know how critical it is for every household to have access to high-quality, affordable internet, but LA County takes it one step further, as they understand the need for devices and support and education as well, and Human-I-T is proud to be a partner and support them in their journey.”
If you want to see more footage from our event and see some of these time trials for yourself, please take a couple short minutes to watch the video below (and be sure to re-share on your social channels to spread some positive content)!