Conference Report from Partners Bridging the Digital Divide
By: Katherine Lato, Maryanna Milton, Barry Glicklich
We attended the 2019 Net Inclusion conference in Charlotte on April 1-3. The following notes are from the sessions/activities that PBDD attended, reflecting only a subset of the conference. Many of the slides from presentations are available at https://netinclusion2019.sched.com/ along with information about the speakers. Livestream of some sessions (the ones in the main room) are available.
Thank you to The Knight Foundation for providing a lot of support for this conference and to all the sponsors. The food was wonderful, and the opportunities to socialize and network were most appreciated. The NDIA staff, volunteers, and participants once again did a tremendous job of pulling together those engaged in digital inclusion into a community, and we thank them.
Our main takeaways from the conference:
- While political philosophy differences may prevent agreement on broadband as a right, whether equipment given away is valued, and the role of government in making broadband affordable, there seems to be agreement that addressing the Homework Gap is something we as society should do to ensure that the next generation is getting the education they need to succeed
- Partnership is critical. Many organizations are able to perform “above their weight” because they partner. Example Winterset community schools partner with local businesses to get students broadband.
- When presenting information, try to avoid being text heavy. An example of cookies and how they are used can be as non-word focused as having someone wear a t-shirt with a photo of a computer on it walking around taking pieces of cookies and storing them in a cookie jar. Then matching the cookie with the person when they revisit the site. For a full example, see NYC Digital Safety training.
- Learning is an ongoing activity, with goal setting being important. People can explore and follow their interest and learn more and teach more.
- Providing broadband to the economically challenged can be a good business decision. For example, with prepaid plans, there’s no need for a credit check, and users can pay for access when they can afford it, and when they most need it.
- As a community and a movement, we have raised public awareness of the issue of digital inclusion, and potential for progress is evident in the Digital Equity Act being introduced in the US Congress.
The full report (20+ pages) is available as a google document, under terms of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike.
There are several items in this newsletter:
- reflections on the last year
- Net Inclusion 2019 in Charlotte
- a writeup from Maryanna Milton on becoming a computer refurbisher
- a partner profile of San Diego Futures Foundation
Another Good Year
As we conclude our fourth year (our fiscal year ends in February), I want to thank all of our partners, affiliates, donors, and volunteers who have helped us make a difference in digital inclusion. As of this date, we have thirty-two partner agencies, almost 200 pages of content, and over 17,000 views. We look forward to adding more newsletters, white papers, partner profiles, and additional resources in the coming year. If you work with agencies that may be interested in partnering with PBDD, please let us know.
Net Inclusion 2019
We encourage all of our partners and those involved in digital inclusion to attend Net Inclusion 2019, being held in Charlotte, NC from April 1-3. Early registration ends February 14. The sponsor, National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), is a member-based organization (basic membership is free) that provides a unified voice for broadband access, personal devices and local technology training and support programs.
Through a generous grant, PBDD is able to offer a limited number of scholarships to cover the cost of conference registration. If you are interested, please contact us. If you will be attending, please plan to join us for a PBDD Partners get-together, immediately following the reception on Monday, April 1.
As part of our efforts to keep you informed about what we’re working on, this newsletter addresses the following three items:
- Measuring impact
- PBDD workshop plans
- New partner profile
1) After several mostly unsuccessful attempts to get answers to a series of questions from our partners, we are setting aside our plan to write a white paper on measuring impact. Thank you to those who did discuss this topic with us. Even without a published white paper, it helped increase our knowledge on this subject. It can be daunting to get started, so we recommend that all nonprofit partners fill in the ‘Charting Impact’ information on GuideStar. The following examples may help:
- C2SDK GuideStar
- Connected Nation Guidestar
- FreeGeek 2017 impact report
- IBSA, Inc. GuideStar
- PBDD GuideStar and web page documenting how we measure impact
- PRC GuideStar
- San Diego Futures Foundation GuideStar
- Note: If we missed anyone, please let us know and we’ll update this list.
By Katherine Lato
We were invited to attend the p2pu.org workshop in Kansas City since we had used their model for peer-to-peer training and written up our results in a white paper. The following is PBDD’s impression of the workshop and what we learned. The organizers gathered a lot of information from the workshop and are using that in planning. They have shared this with workshop participants and will undoubtedly have more information on their website. Here’s the information they provided prior to the workshop: https://kc2018.p2pu.org/
Since we think learning circles, or peer-to-peer learning, are a very useful way to increase the completion rate of online training, and we are thinking of having a PBDD workshop at the next NDIA conference, we found this very well-run workshop useful. Barry and I have experience with conferences and workshops in the corporate world, but not as much in the nonprofit world. Some of the things that made this a good workshop included: Read more
By: Katherine Lato, Maryanna Milton, Barry Glicklich
On April 17-19, we attended the 2018 Net Inclusion conference in Cleveland. The following notes are from the sessions/activities that PBDD attended, reflecting only a subset of the conference. Many of the slides from presentations are available at: https://netinclusion2018.sched.com/list/descriptions/ along with information about the speakers.
Thank you to The Cleveland Foundation for providing a lot of support for this conference and to all the sponsors. The food was wonderful, and the opportunities to socialize and network were most appreciated. NDIA staff, volunteers, and participants once again did a tremendous job of pulling together those engaged in digital inclusion into a community, and we thank them.
Our main takeaways from the conference:
- The internet today is like electricity was 100 years ago, in the process of rolling out and changing people’s lives and opportunities, but with some substantial differences. There are multiple classes of service that are evolving over time.
- It is inspiring to be around people who care about digital inclusion and are willing to work to ensure that everyone has good access to the internet. Sharing experiences and lessons learned is an invaluable opportunity.
- Libraries are a key participant in digital inclusion.
- People are accessing two different internets. If your internet is phone based, that is very different from broadband access to your home. The term ‘leaner’ means someone who doesn’t have home internet access and leans against a building with a mobile device to get wifi access.
- With self assessment, some students reported feeling less knowledgeable, reflecting that they learned how much they didn’t know.
- If you couldn’t attend the conference, or even if you did, you might want to go through the slides available and read about the people who attended.
- While the weather wasn’t very good, the food and welcoming people in Cleveland were marvelous.
Partner Profile: C2SDK
See here for our full partner profile of C2SDK. We met with Chéri Pierre, the Chief Executive Officer of Computers 2 SD Kids on January 23, 2018 in San Diego, CA. Collaboration was a strong theme of our conversation. As Chéri said, “Collaboration is good. Your organization can then be efficient in the budget, not try to do things that someone else can do better. The refurbishing industry is more collaborative than many nonprofits.”
Our recent travels took us to western New York where we had a rewarding meeting with Renee Cerullo, President of Ed Tech. We were able to gain insight for a partner profile that is available at: pbdd.org/ed-tech-november-2017
As an all-volunteer organization based in Buffalo, NY, Ed Tech of Western New York seeks to enrich the lives of children by improving access to computer technology. They have an interesting model with ‘Ed Tech Days’ where an amazing amount of work gets done. If you know someone who is interested in improving computer access in a new city, their example could be useful. The ‘Ed Tech Day’ model could also be a way to mix things up with your current volunteer efforts.
Throughout the year, we add information to our website. Some recent additions/updates that might be of particular interest are:
- Map of partners
- Updated low cost access options page
- Current list of conferences of interest
- Link to Right to repair
- Bridging the Gap (PCs for People partnership with Mobile Beacon.)
- Ability to search the site
We just released a new partner profile on Arzona Students Recycling Used Technology (AZStRUT) at https://pbdd.org/partner-profiles thanks to board member Maryanna Milton. When possible, we like to include a visit with a partner profile, so hopefully, our travels will take us to your location. When we travel, we tend to take pictures of bridges, and have compiled several pages of bridges that you are free to use since they are under a creative commons license. They are available at: https://pbdd.org/pictures-of-bridges/
We are planning to host a pre-conference workshop/get-together of PBDD partners in conjunction with the next NDIA conference, April 17-19 in Cleveland. If anyone has specific items they’d like to discuss, please let us know. We get a lot out of these conferences and encourage all of our partners to join NDIA (it is free to affiliate) and to attend the conference if you are able. Details are available at: https://digitalinclusion.org/netinclusion2018/
Our fourth white paper, The Experience of Fundraising, published in June 2017, was based on a series of questions with phone interviews. Thanks to all who contributed. The white paper is available as PDF or HTML. Recommendations include:
- Take advantage of region-specific opportunities at the city or state level.
- Tell stories to get free advertising and more donations.
- Cultivate relationships with donors, volunteers, and potential donors. Thank you is more important than please, but say both.
- Remember, your situation is unique so experiment to determine what works best for you.
Katherine Lato, Maryanna Milton and Barry Glicklich of PBDD went to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)’s conference in St. Paul, MN on May 16-17th. This was the second annual conference sponsored by NDIA. The Net Inclusion conference at St. Paul Library and City Hall included digital inclusion advocates from local government, non-profits, academia, and industry. It was a wonderful atmosphere of sharing and creating connections. This is a report from all three of us at PBDD.
Our key takeaways:
- Don’t reinvent the wheel, so see if someone else has solved the issue you’re having.
- There isn’t a single path to using computer technology. Find people’s interests and use projects to drive learning. For example, if someone is interested in knitting, they can use technology to find patterns.
- Engage those with an outside perspective in digital inclusion. Meet them where they are, using their language to identify how digital inclusion can help with their issues.
- Teach people critical thinking while using computers, not just how to use a particular computer.
This is the time of year when many families send out a wrap-up of their year, so here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to with PBDD.
We released our third white paper, Computer Refurbishing Process, that presents an overview of the steps to refurbish computers based on the People’s Resource Center process. All of our white papers are now also available in HTML format, which means they should show up in a search of the website. Read more
PBDD teamed with the People’s Resource Center to present a night of food and laughter for fifty people on October 20th. We titled the event, ‘Laughing Matters,’ and PBDD board member Maryanna Milton ended the evening by thanking everyone and encouraging us to ‘make someone laugh.’
The comedy was donated by Chicago’s Comedy Scene for a Make-A-Wish® charity event. Katherine & Barry were the winning bid. The Chicago’s Comedy Scene graciously supported Make-A-Wish, PBDD, and PRC with this event and provided audio as well as a fine comedic line-up. Read more
In July and August, PBDD experimented with two low-cost mobile broadband providers and we would like to share our experience and information about hotspot offers with our partners. Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen are non-profits which work with Sprint and their LTE network to provide wireless broadband connectivity. Both provide access to the Sprint LTE network for use by non-profits and schools via a hotspot for the cost of equipment plus $120 per year.
Download speeds (via testmy.net) are typically 4-8 Mbps, slower than the top speed of many wired providers, but adequate for the needs of many small organizations. In our case, we are currently using it as a secondary backup network to our current wired service. Each hotspot device supports up to ten wifi-connected clients. Read more
There are a lot of links in this material, we encourage you to explore the ones of most interest to you.
- It’s an exciting time for digital inclusion.
- Kansas City, Minneapolis and Seattle have a lot of experience with digital inclusion initiatives and can serve as models for other communities.
- There is a great willingness to share experiences, which is helping us all.
- In completing grant applications, refurbishers should stress the case for environmental benefits.
- There are innovative ways to increase knowledge such as the Kansas City library’s bookmarks on how to add an attachment in email.
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance and the Kansas City Public Library welcomed digital inclusion practitioners, advocates, academics, Internet service providers and policymakers to Net Inclusion 2016. The agenda page lists the slides from particular sessions or they can be found here. The attendees included many libraries, non-profits, some vendors, policy-makers and a few refurbishers. Read more
Thanks to all who contributed comments to PBDD-White Paper: Lessons from Starting a Bridging Agency. We encourage you to share it with others as part of your organization’s publicity. To make it easy to find them, we’ve created a White Papers web page.
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance http://www.digitalinclusionalliance.org/ started last year to provide a unified voice for local technology training, home broadband access and public broadband access programs. The NDIA has been doing great work in advocacy with the FCC for Lifeline services. They are building community among organizations working to increase digital inclusion.
It has been a great run-up to the end of the year with conferences that helped clarify our purpose and extend our contacts. Vice-President Maryanna Milton attended the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD) conference in Scottsdale Arizona in October. We’ve put together a summary of that conference at PPDD 2015 Conference Report.
Shortly thereafter, President Barry Glicklich and Vice-President of Communications Katherine Lato attended the Electronics Reuse Conference in New Orleans followed by a visit to Lutheran Social Services of North Florida. See the write-up for the conference at Electronics Reuse Conference Report 2015 Read more
Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide highlights:
- Mix of academics, non-profits and policymakers from around the world.
- Emphasis on broad-band adoption.
Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide 2015 Conference Report
Board member Maryanna Milton attended the conference in Phoenix, Arizona in October. She was part of a panel on ‘Challenges and Opportunities of Bridging the Digital Divide in Communities’ with a presentation entitled, “Practical Experience from Two Illinois Non-profits Bridging the Digital Divide,” describing the activities of PBDD and People’s Resource Center.
- A transition from computers to mobile devices is underway, bringing challenges and opportunities for refurbishers
- There is a growing movement to push for Digital Right to Repair, and a trade association to push for this is in the process of being formed.
- Non-profit refurbishers can find free access to membership in Tradeloop and heavily discounted hardware/software resources through TechSoup.
- Look at iFixit for repair manuals on a wide variety of devices including mobile.
- Even for-profit companies may have plans to donate computers.
- While Apple products have repair challenges, software issues are easier (factory reset iPhone to wipe data, no software license needed for Apple software on Apple hardware.)
This is the second newsletter targeted to PBDD’s partner agencies.
Barry and I had a great visit with Net Literacy in Indianapolis in July. You can read about it at our partner profile. Our intention is to visit partners, or potential partners, whenever our personal travel puts us in the vicinity. We are going to be in New Orleans for the Electronics Reuse Conference in early November, and hope to visit Lutheran Social Services of North Florida.
Thanks to all who contributed comments to our white paper on what makes a best-in-class bridging agency. A revised version is available at: AnatomyOfBestInClass-v1.0. If you have any comments, please let us know. Read more