2012: Year End Update

DECEMBER 12, 2012

Tags: Google FiberKansas CityUpdate

1624 Westport Rd Kansas City MO. We move in Jan 1.

The excitement around the launch of Google Fiber and the pre-registration campaign has given us a unique opportunity to close the Digital Divide in the Kansas City area. We are about to begin a busy and even more exciting year.

Our organization is embarking on an effort to really make an impact by hiring staff, establishing a headquarters, and launching programs in the fiberhoods.  As the year 2012 is drawing to a close, I just wanted to share a little more about progress we’ve made at Connecting for Good:

  • Phase 1 of the Rosedale Ridge Wi-Fi project went live on December 14. As a result, 400 people who live in this Section 8 housing project are now able to access the Internet for free. Half of them are children under 12 years old. On the day we announced that the network was working, over 20 residents  signed up to participate in digital literacy sessions and receive a refurbished donated PC.
  • We’ve collected donations of over 200 used PCs.  The first lot will go to the residents at Rosedale Ridge.
  • The initial curriculum for our digital literacy program is in place.  Rosedale Ridge is our “proving ground.”
  • We’re very excited about the outstanding volunteer team we’ve put together consisting of people from the community, corporate trainers, IT professionals and nonprofit experts.
  • On January 1, we will move into our new office/workshop/training center on Westport Road, just a block East of the Google Fiber Space, making us a part of the  KC Startup Village.  We are looking forward to being a part of Kansas City’s emerging tech corridor.  Our plans for the space include a workshop for refurbishing and distributing donated computers, a computer lab and a place for workshops, user groups and training events, along with our administrative offices.
  • We’ve made tremendous connections with government and the business community that will result in hundreds more donated PCs in the coming months.  Our plan is to use them with the digital literacy efforts in order to overcome the PC equipment obstacle so more lower income people can sign up for Google Fiber’s $300/7 years of connectivity plan.
  • A game plan is now in place that involves working with libraries and community groups ahead of the Google Fiber roll-outs so residents can sign up in our digital literacy experiences – both at our new center and in the neighborhoods through our mobile computing lab.

The next phase, of course, is to raise funds to hire staff.  We will need administrators, network and PC refurbishing technicians and digital literacy trainers.  There will also be costs of renovating our new space.  We will need for a vehicle to transport the mobile computing lab. And there will be software licensing and parts to make the refurbished PCs most useful for those who get them.

We also have more opportunities to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to public housing projects where Google Fiber is not an option.  To do this, we have been offered additional equipment donations from One Economy.  Their support made the first phase of Rosedale Ridge possible.  But there will be expenses related to installing it at other housing projects.

In the coming year, along with moving into the new space, we are gearing up for the widespread installations of Google Fiber.  We want to do all we can to remove the hardware and digital literacy barriers some as many people as possible in underserved areas of Kansas City will be able to take advantage of their service.  Our new space also allows us to create opportunities to get more people interested and involved in technology for the sake of career development.  It would be great if we could, over the next few years, create an “urban geek” culture where becoming an IT professional would be seen as a career path as popular as being a hip hop star or professional athlete.

A special thanks to these partners and supporters who’ve made all of this possible:

And, to all the media outlets, locally and around the country, that have helped us to tell our story this past year. To our board members, volunteers and individual donors and business contributors, know that we are extremely grateful for your involvement!

Together, we will make a difference on thousands of lives in our community.  Your support is tremendously appreciated.

Written by Tom Esselman

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