Closing the Homework Gap
Project Appleseed is providing access to Internet enabled devices, collaborative and inclusive digital content, digital literacy training, and quality technical support for struggling families to be better able to use the internet for education, information, employment, well-being and social connections. Learning@Home is our digital inclusion project targeted at struggling St. Louis communities, and is sustainable, replicable, and broad reaching. This partnership will engage with the families of 8,000 students grades 7-12 located in the high-poverty communities of North St. Louis City and County - St. Louis, Ferguson-Florissant, Jennings, Normandy, Riverview Gardens and University City.
We believe all students and their families are entitled to opportunities to succeed, regardless of any demographic, disability, geographic, or economic factors. In tangible terms, this means closing the technology gap that serves as a barrier to improved achievement and engagement among low-income students and parents. Partnered with Everyoneon.org, Project Appleseed can eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet service and computers, and free digital literacy courses accessible to all unconnected parents and students. We aim to leverage the democratizing power of the Internet to provide opportunity to all Americans. Through partnerships with Internet service providers, EveryoneOn reduces Project Appleseed’s program cost by offering $10 per month unlimited mobile broadband, limited free home Internet service and digital devices including $125 tablets and $160 laptops with free software.
What is the “digital divide”? This refers to the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not.. What does digital equity or inclusion mean? Digital inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This includes 5 elements according to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance:
1. Affordable, robust broadband internet service;
2. Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
3. Access to digital literacy training;
4. Quality technical support; and
5. Applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration.
Digital Inclusion must evolve as technology advances. Digital inclusion requires intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical, institutional and structural barriers to access and use technology. Digital equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy and economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.
In this report we summarize the research in the target community. We will outline community needs in the target area and state measurable project goals and methodology to address those needs. We will then lay out a budget for the project’s implementation. A time line detailing our objectives is being updated and will be updated in the coming months.
Learning@Home Partnership Projects
St. Louis Digital Inclusion Summit
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Learning@Home Partnership Projects
Door-to-door canvassing and home visits will mark the beginning of the systematic and direct contact with targeted families. Project Appleseed will partner with local grassroots nonprofits to engage volunteer canvassers who will knock on doors of private residences within a particular geographic school attendance area, engaging in face-to-face personal interaction with parents, grandparents and caring adults. Each resident family will be asked to take part in the Digital Scholarship program and earn a free device and a deeply discounted connection to the Internet. Eligible families must have at least one student enrolled in grades 7-12; attend a high-poverty Title I school. Each family participating will receive training in digital literacy. Scholarship parents are required to attend two parent/ teacher conferences and give volunteer time - a minimum of 10 hours in their student’s schools each year.
Digital Lending Program (Device and Hotspot)
Hot spots are low-cost devices that provide mobile broadband wireless Internet access anywhere. They can fit in a pocket and connect multiple devices. They bring the Internet into the home for those who do not have access. Project Appleseed will seek to partner with public libraries, school libraries and more on a lending program that is cost effective, sustainable and able to reach staff, students and the community at large. Partnering with non-profits, schools, local government, local businesses, and community organizations can increase the popularity and success of our program as well as help target patrons who might benefit the most from the mobile hotspot program.
Computer Classes at the Library
The perfect computer classes for beginners introduces students to starting the computer, navigating the desk- top, using the mouse, and the basic purposes of special function keys on the keyboard. Advanced classes are also available. Internet training classes have been coordinated in two dozen St. Louis Public Library and St. Louis County Library locations. Free computer classes are geared towards all skill levels and audiences, cover- ing topics like borrowing eBooks at the library, creating resumes, and using programs like Word and Excel. The libraries offer several computer classes to cardholders, ranging from basic to advanced.
After School Family Computer Lab
The Digital Inclusion Partnership will identify Title I schools with after school programs to create family and parent centered com- puter labs made up of devices sustainably sourced and preloaded with digital literacy curriculum, and designed to be packed into a small space, so a permanent physical room is not required. The computer labs will be facilitated by volunteers from local schools or universities in exchange for a long term lending or ownership of a device, either a computer or a hotspot. These volunteers will set up and take down the lab each day, and provide resources that are more accessible for use by underprivileged communities like printing and technical support. Computer labs in later iterations may also have a device and hotspot lending function as well as food provided for families. These labs potentially may feature afternoon talks or presentations by local anchor institution representatives. This project will be designed to be replicable on a state and national level.
St. Louis Digital Inclusion Summit
Mapping St. Louis Regional Inclusion Programs
Project Appleseed will work to bring together the St. Louis Digital Inclusion Summit based on the success of the The Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion. Community and major thought leaders on the opportunities and challenges of digital inclusion, will meet to explore issues to improve connectivity and public access in our community. The KC organization is an open, collaborative group of Kansas City area nonprofits, individuals, government entities and business focused on fostering internet access and digital readiness in greater Kansas City. Membership meetings occur on a monthly or bi-monthly basis at the Kansas City Public Library.
Prior to the summit, Washington University graduate students in Social Work will survey city and county leaders to determine who are the key stakeholders in St. Louis’ digital inclusion community. The same list of stakeholders will be used to map the St. Louis community’s resources.
To begin the process we will survey schools, nonprofits, business and government first to discover answers to the following:
1. Does your organization have at least one full time-equivalent staff dedicated to digital inclusion policy and programs, and supported by the municipality’s own revenue rather than third-party grant funding?
2. Does your organization convene, and/or materially support, an ongoing digital inclusion planning process for your community?
3. Do officials of your organization participate actively in a local digital inclusion coalition?
4. Does your organization regularly conduct and publish research on Internet access and use by your residents?
5. Does your organization directly fund community digital inclusion programming, i.e. digital literacy training and/or assistance to residents in getting home Internet access?
6. Does your organization directly fund one or more public access computer labs?
7. Does your organization provide material support to a public or community wireless network deployed in one or more residential neighborhoods, and offering Internet access to residents where they live?
Would you and your organization like to be included as partner in Learning@Home Partnership Projects or in the planning of the St. Louis Digital Inclusion Summit? Please complete the information below and we will be in contact with you: