At the National League of Cities Congress of Cities event in Nashville, Chattanooga was selected as one of six winners of the inaugural Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards, presented by Next Century Cities, the National League of Cities, and Google Fiber. These awards celebrate city governments who are leading programs or empowering community-based organizations to tackle barriers to Internet adoption, said officials.
"Tech Goes Home Chattanooga is bridging the digital divide by ensuring students, parents and senior citizens are equipped with practical computer skills and access to technology," said Mayor Andy Berke. "Tech Goes Home is a shining example of the important work the city and our partners are doing every day to increase digital literacy."
The Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards featured two categories, with two overall winners selected in each category and an additional entrant in each category receiving recognition for an innovative approach. The categories, the Leader in Digital Inclusion Best Practices and the Most Promising New Plan awards, recognize established and newly-launched or planned programs, respectively. Tech Goes Home Chattanooga was recognized in the Most Promising New Plan category.
Tech Goes Home Chattanooga offers programs for adults, school-aged children and preschoolers. The program provides 15 hours of training to help participants acquire the skills to be able to access information and resources online. Upon completion of the course, participants also have the option to purchase a new Chromebook for $50. The program also offers assistance in securing low-cost home Internet service through one of several available options. Tech Goes Home Chattanooga is wrapping up 23 classes across Chattanooga and Hamilton County. New courses will begin at over 30 locations in January.
Around 25 percent of U.S. households or approximately 60 million Americans don’t have Internet in their homes. Families affected by the digital divide, many of whom are from lower-income neighborhoods, are at a disadvantage when it comes to doing homework, applying for jobs or staying in touch with loved ones. Whether cities are leading or partnering on programs, city governments have a role to play in getting residents the digital access and resources they need, said officials.