Net Literacy to Showcase Successes in a Washington DC Broadband Adoption Summit Held by the US Internet Industry Association and Broadband for America

Net Literacy has been invited to showcase its successes of increasing computer access to over 150,000 individuals at a broadband adoption conference held by the US Internet Industry Association and Broadband for America on June 22nd at the Park Hyatt Washington in Washington DC. More about the conference is available at the USIIA website.

In May, 2009, the USIIA named Net Literacy as the preferred model for increasing digital inclusion in America. Two of Net Literacy Board members serve on Broadband for America’s Adoption Committee. The USIIA and Broadband for America asked Net Literacy to serve as a joint participant of the conference.

“Since 2003, Net Literacy’s student volunteers have increased broadband adoption and thousands of students have donated hundreds of thousands of hours of their time in the service to others,” said Student Chair Daniel Kent. “During a time when American corporations and our government should be identifying the most efficient and effective model to increase broadband adoption, Net Literacy spends thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to increase digital inclusion when other organizations spend millions of dollars or tens of millions of dollars. A community-based bottom-up public private partnership with student volunteers is a way that most efficiently increases broadband adoption on the community level.” Net Literacy has been recognized and received award from two American Presidents. US Senators Lugar and Bayh serve as Honorary Co-Chairs, and Congressmen, Lt. Governor Skillman, and Mayors also serve on its Honorary Board of Directors. Since 2005, Net Literacy has help provide or expanded over 500 computer labs throughout the Midwest.

This one day conference will discuss methods and case studies that increase broadband adoption in America and provide American tax payers and broadband providers an ROI. In its recent report to Congress, the Federal Communication’s Commission cited Net Literacy’s Community Connects and Senior Connects programs. The FCC also agreed with Net Literacy’s suggestion that a Digital Literacy Corps be created and that K-12 students on free or assisted lunch programs receive priority for subsidized or free computer hardware and broadband in the plan.

Net Literacy’s programs are independently used by students from New York to California and around the world. The US Internet Industry Association submitted a Filing to the Federal Communication Commission naming Net Literacy’s model as the preferred approach to reducing the digital divide in the United States. Net Literacy was selected by the European Union Study on Digital Inclusion as one of the 91 most promising good practice initiatives based upon an investigation of 32 countries including the EU Member States, the United States, Norway, Iceland, Canada, and India. Microsoft’s publication Innovating for inclusion: A Digital Inclusion guide for those leading the way, cites Net Literacy as one of the best of class digital inclusions examples. Other organizations and consortiums, including the US Broadband Coalition with 170 members that range from Google to Comcast and from Verizon to Cisco Systems cited Net Literacy and its model as a policy consideration in its “Adoption and Usage Report” for its programs in broadband adoption, helping the disabled, and improving the education process. The report was prepared for the Federal Communications Commission in behalf of America’s broadband industry to support the FCC’s National Broadband Plan Blueprint report to Congress. The Federal Communications Commission cited Net Literacy’s programs that teach senior citizens computer and Internet skills, teaching senior citizens, and our Digital Literacy Corps in the National Broadband Plan to Congress.

Net Literacy Launches Financial Connects Program

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In 2007, Net Literacy’s student board decided that “Net” financial literacy was becoming increasingly important with the proliferation of online banking and financial resources – and the increasing danger of identity theft. Also, the student board believed that students’ general lack of financial literacy caused them to be ill prepared for life. A series of informal focus groups comprised of high school students found most financial literacy websites to be “a yawn” and “boring.” Since increasing students’ life skills is one of Net Literacy’s core mission component; grants were proposed and a summer program was funded thanks to Lilly Endowment, the Old National Bank Foundation, and Bright House Networks. Net Literacy student volunteers reviewed more than 5,000 financial literacy websites and identified the 200 “best of class” videos, interactive games, and other content that made financial literacy relevant and interesting to post on the website.

Twenty student volunteers spent 40 hours during the summer at IUPUI working very quickly to learn how to storyboard, script, produce, and edit videos. Indianapolis Public Schools believed that this website would be an important resource and the district nominated students from Northwest High School, Arlington High School, Arsenal Tech High School, Broad Ripple High School, George Washington Community School, Howe Community High School, and John Marshall High School to learn about financial literacy and produce 20 videos that mixed fact and fun together.

Net Literacy Chief Technology Officer Brian Kelley (Purdue University) and Student President Daniel Kent (Haverford College) built the website and used php to create the dynamic interface to showcase the 200 “Best of Web” financial literacy videos, interactive games, and content. Phase I of the website is at www.financialconnects.org.

Chairman of the House Education Committee Greg Porter visited the students as they were taping the videos during the summer program, and explains why the Indiana General Assembly passed financial literacy legislation in 2009.

A press conference was held at the Indiana Department of Education’s offices, and also, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett praised Net Literacy for this service learning project.

While this was a step in the right direction, Net Literacy’s student board believed that students could learn about financial literacy and in a compelling manner, create their own videos and interactive web based games to both engage and teach students about financial literacy. Net Literacy applied for and was successful in obtaining a $98,000 grant from State Farm. Read more by clicking on the tab “Financial Connects Contest” on this website.

“State Farm supports service-learning because it combines service to the community with classroom curriculum in a hands-on approach to mastering subject material while fostering civic responsibility,” said State Farm Community Specialist Ed Perez. “The State Farm Youth Advisory Board is a prime example of State Farm’s commitment to education, our community and our youth.”

Visit www.statefarmyab.com for more information about the different projects being funded and about the Youth Advisory Board.

Net Literacy’s student volunteers and student board of directors thanks State Farm Youth Advisory Board and State Farm for their trust, support, and advocacy. Learn more about Net Literacy by visiting www.netliteracy.org.

The Indiana Department of Education is providing support to Net Literacy during Phase II of this project – but Net Literacy is solely responsible for the content and site. Additional information about the Indiana Department of Education’s Financial Literacy Standards is at http://www.doe.in.gov/octe/facs/IndianaFinLitEd-FrontPage.html

Net Literacy Wins a $97,900 Grant to Launch a National Financial Literacy Website

On February 22nd, Net Literacy (www.netliteracy.org) will hold a press conference to announce the details of a $97,900 grant awarded to the nonprofit to build a financial literacy website that includes videos and interactive games created by middle school, high school and college students. Most of the grant’s funds will be used to compensate middle school, high school, and college developers for creative and engaging videos and interactive games teaching financial literacy that are chosen for use on the website.

Financial literacy and Internet financial literacy creates a value proposition that increases broadband adoption.

Details will be made available on February 22nd. For additional information, please contact [email protected]

19 Net Literacy Alliance Chapters and Affiliates Participate in Mini-Grant Program

19 Net Literacy (www.netliteracyalliance.org) chapters made the deadline and are able to compete for one of three $1,000 grants to promoted digital inclusion.  While several Net Literacy chapters and affiliates did not meet the deadline to compete for the $1,000 grants, they will qualify for the Mini-Grant programs.  These grants will enable the chapters torepurpose hundreds of computers, teach Internet safety to elementary and middle school students, and help teach seniors and other computer and Internet skills.   Winners include:

a.      YWCA in the City of Marion (whose Net Literacy Chapter has recently combined with the Marion Housing Authority).

b.      Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

c.      Arlington Community School

d.      John Marshall Community School

e.      TC Howe Community School

f.       Tech Force (at ITT Tech)

g.      Carmel Connects (Carmel High School)

h.      Northwest High School

i.       George Washington Community High School

j.       Providence Cristo Rey High School

k.      Connersville Middle School

l.       New Tech High @ Arsenal Tech

m.    New Tech School of IDEAS (Decatur Central High School)

n.      Eastview School (Connersville)

o.     IPS Off Campus Instruction School

p.      Rensselaer Central Middle School

q.      Net Literacy Chapter at Fort Wayne Housing Authority

r.       Net Literacy Chapter at Fort Wayne Urban League

s.      Net Literacy Chapter at Fort Wayne Community Schools

The competition was tough and the following schools will be invited to compete for a $1,000 grant – YWCA/Marion Housing Authority, IPS Off Campus Instructional School, New Tech School of IDEAS, New Tech High @ Arsenal Tech, and TC Howe. The following schools were recognized but did not receive enough points to qualify to compete for the next round of the $1,000 grant.  Congratulations since they received Honorable Mentions – Rensselaer Central Middle School, Providence Cristo Rey, Tech Force (ITT Tech), Net Literacy at Fort Wayne Community Schools, Northwest High School, Carmel Connects (Carmel High School) and John Marshall Community High School.  Again, congratulations to all.

US Broadband Coalition Issues Adoption & Use Report to the FCC

In any national broadband strategy, adoption and use need to play a major role. We’ve seen numerous examples of broadband driving future applications that will enhance lives. Advances in education, health care and economic development are out there, and many Americans are going to need to increase their technological competencies in order to realize the benefits.

While the U.S. Broadband Coalition submitted a report on a national broadband strategy to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Sept. 24, it recently submitted another that offers more detailed policy suggestions.

The Broadband Adoption and Use Working Group, chaired by Charles Benton of the Benton Foundation; Link Hoewing of Verizon; Karen Archer Perry of the Knight Center of Digital Excellence, and Kenneth Peres of Communications Workers of America, collaborated with more than 30 authors representing over 25 different firms to create a new report that was delivered to the FCC Oct. 29 and will be showcased in a public forum at the FCC Hearing Room in Washington D.C. Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. EST.

“Broadband Adoption and Use: Bridging the Divide and Increasing the Intensity of Broadband Use Across All Sectors of the Economy,” is a robust document focusing on policy options that promote: inclusion, increased intensity of broadband use, interoperability, integration of broadband and technology into other programs, and expanded innovation. The report’s hundred plus policy ideas address each of these principles directly.

Inclusion

As more functions in our society move online, the cost of digital exclusion continues to escalate. Conversely, the value associated with any given Internet-enabled service increases as more people or devices access that service. This report includes specific recommendations to bridge the digital divide. Its universal design principles seek to bring access to people with disabilities. The benefits of broadband can potentially reach 40 percent of American adults who currently have inadequate or no access.

Intensity of Broadband Use

While broadband appears to be well integrated in some sectors of our nation’s economy, we’re actually in the beginning stages of broadband adoption as a whole. The potential to further leverage broadband technologies across society and the economy creates unparalleled opportunities to grow our economy and enrich lives.

The report covers a number of policy options designed to increase adoption and use in the areas of economic development, health care, public safety, education, energy and sustainability, and democracy and civic engagement.

Interoperability

While broadband developments to-date are founded on the natural interoperability of Internet Protocol (the method by which data is sent from one computer to another), more application-level interoperability is needed to accelerate development across sectors and constituencies such as in health care and public safety. The report points out where policy and standardization can drive additional deployment and create new, more effective use models.

Integration of Broadband into Everything

Broadband technology and Internet-based applications can no longer be managed and funded in “technology silos” of policy and investment. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is integral to social services, education, health care, safety, civic rights and engagement, and all other sectors of the economy. The report recommends ICT investment and policy be incorporated into other federal and state programs such as housing, social services, education, and health care as integral funded and mission-aligned program components.

Investment

Strategic investments such as those made through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act’s broadband stimulus funding, Universal Service Funds and USDA Rural Health programs are critical to filling gaps in the market in terms of access, adoption and applications.

Innovation

The hallmark of the Internet age has been innovation. While change is necessary to broaden and deepen the impact of broadband across the U.S., changes must also preserve and encourage continued innovation at all levels of the economy and market. A number of recent studies have shown the Internet is the new platform for innovation not only in the U.S. but globally. Consider the number of new applications and devices over the past few years.

Could any of us have accurately predicted this exact kind of innovation would take place? Can we accurately predict the future possibilities that exist? Probably not.

But as the Coalition suggests, we can encourage policies that will “focus not on protecting status quo but in continuing to create a fertile environment for U.S.-based innovation, expansion as well as adoption and use.”

Over 30 industry experts from 25 firms contributed to “Broadband Adoption and Use: Bridging the Divide and Increasing the Intensity of Broadband Use Across All Sectors of the Economy,” In addition to the report co-chairs, Alcatel-Lucent, Net Literacy, Telcordia, Utilities Telecom Council, PC Rebuilders and Recyclers, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, OneCommunity and many others contributed to this report.

Each report section includes a statement on the opportunity, barriers and possible policy options to be implemented at the federal, state or local levels of government. While the report reflects a few areas of contention, there is strong overall agreement that increasing the adoption and use of broadband technology and services is good for America and for Americans.

With the Internet celebrating only its 40th birthday and search functions just over 10 years old, this is still a field in the early stages of growth and value. There is much we can do to create greater inclusion in adoption and to drive for greater value across those sectors where broadband is already in use and this report includes a menu of serious options for consideration.

Future events

The “Broadband Adoption and Use: Bridging the Divide and Increasing the Intensity of Broadband Use Across All Sectors of the Economy” report will be publicly released Nov. 13 and will be showcased in live and webcast events at the FCC Headquarters on the same day at 1 p.m. EST. Please go to www.BB4US.net for more details, or contact Karen Archer Perry at the Knight Center ([email protected]) or Don Kent at Net Literacy ([email protected]).

Credits – Knight Center for Digital Excellence