Huffington Post Impact: The National Digital Literacy Corps

One hundred million Americans do not have high speed Internet at home, and 18 million Americans live in areas with little or no broadband infrastructure. Most Americans who are offline have the ability to connect to broadband; but they choose not to do so.

Seniors, minorities, low-income and rural Americans remain disproportionately offline. The digital divide is the widest for under-served groups that have the fewest resources and opportunities to become digitally literate.

Coming Soon: a National Digital Literacy Corps. On October 12, 2011, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski first announced Connect to Compete, a national program to promote broadband adoption and digital literacy. It’s a big step in the right direction. The Chairman then continued: “building on a big idea developed in the National Broadband Plan, we’re proposing to work with America’s schools and public libraries to launch a Digital Literacy Corps to help promote and teach digital literacy.”

Our Beginning. In 2003, a group of middle school students formed a Digital Literacy Corps of student volunteers called “Senior Connects.” In this program, teens helped senior citizens cross the digital divide by teaching computer and Internet skills as these same students crossed the intergenerational divide. The scope of the nonprofit was expanded the next year to include low-income, minorities, and rural Americans and renamed Net Literacy. Since then, 3,500 students have donated 20,000 computers to schools and nonprofits and increased computer access to 170,000 underserved Americans.

One Reason It’s Coming Soon. In April 2009, the U.S. Internet Industry Association and Net Literacy co-authored a whitepaper calling for a Student Net Literacy Corps, which was filed with the FCC. Later that year, Net Literacy filed comments to the FCC calling for a “digital literacy corps of student volunteers.” The filings sparked a call from the FCC to learn more, and the National Broadband Plan cited and credited Net Literacy for several of its initiatives, including the call for a “Digital Literacy Corps.”

Creating a Digital Ecosystem in a Tough Economy. Net Literacy accomplishes its goal of maintaining a Digital Literacy Corps with minimal resources — with an annual budget in the tens of thousands, not the millions. All digital divide programs are different — and inspired by a public library’s digital outreach program, Net Literacy’s secret to success is a model that taps into the power of America’s 30,000,000 high school and college students, making use of an unlimited source of Digital Literacy Corps volunteers.

We also have great corporate and foundation partners (check out our website to learn more). Some digital literacy programs can provide everything for free; we ask for our nonprofit partners to put some of their own skin into the game and provide the rest. We are not the largest program but we’re strategic. Net Literacy is the only program with a regional reach, allowing students to have refurbished and donated computers so that hundreds of computer labs could be built or expanded in both urban and rural communities.

Our Chapters are in the Schools! As students do the volunteering, they learn job skills, life skills, and serve their own communities. Chairman Genachowski said that a computer in a student’s home increases their chances of graduating high school by 7 percent; and Net Literacy’s chapters in schools have helped donate 9,000 computers to families in a school district where 83 percent of the students are on free or reduced lunch programs. This type of local community initiative has brought together schools and nonprofits with a shared mission to help their constituents by reducing the digital divide.

A national Digital Literacy Corps is coming soon! Net Literacy is a Digital Literacy Corps that has enabled 3,500 student volunteers to make a difference. Our team has shown that we students are not tomorrow’s leaders; we are today’s leaders and can be part of the solution.

It is our hope that the Federal Communications Commission will recognize the value of our experience and leadership, and permit Net Literacy to be a part of the soon-to-be Digital Literacy Corps.

View the article at Huff Post by clicking HERE

Summer 2011 Summary

Net Literacy had a busy and exciting summer:

Financial Connects programs, over a five week period, engaged core city 42 students to create 91 financial literacy videos that correlated with the Department of Education’s Financial Literacy Standards.

Net Literacy taught 100 core city students how to create a business plan and 21st Century learning skills as 16 teams of students competed to most effectively engage a distinguished group of judges including executives from foundations, school, the nonprofit, and for-profit sectors.

Computer Connects programs taught 14 primarily homeless students financial literacy, group dynamics, and computer repurposing skills – 350 computers were completed and will be donated to schools, the parents of students on free lunch programs without a computer at home, libraries, and other nonprofits throughout Indiana so that they can build or expand public computer labs to increase access to broadband.

Net Literacy Receives the 21st Century Achievement Award
Net Literacy Receives the 21st Century Achievement Award

Net Literacy was named the 21st Century Achievement Winner by Computerworld Magazine. Companies were nominated from 31 countries and 264 companies were named “Laurels” and invited to a black tie dinner in Washington DC. 55 finalist in 11 categories were announced, and Net Literacy won the Digital Inclusion category by providing “the IT solution that most contributed to increasing digital inclusion” – the “best practices” website. Other category winners included IBM, the City of Boston, Allstate Insurance, and the US Army.

During the last 30 days, Net Literacy website had 20,000 unique visitors

In August, Net Literacy delivered 223 computers to eight United Ways in eight counties benefiting 38 public libraries, youth centers, senior centers, community centers, and other nonprofits.

A Indiana Department of Education – Net Literacy partnership enabled Net Literacy to donate 750 computers to 14 schools throughout the state this summer.

For more information, email Daniel Kent at [email protected]

Governor Daniels Declares March 1st “Net Literacy & Digital Literacy Day for the State of Indiana”

Sometimes, a proclamation is worth 1000 words….

Governor Daniels Proclaims 'Net Literacy & Digital Literacy Day for the State of Indiana'
Governor Daniels Proclaims 'Net Literacy & Digital Literacy Day for the State of Indiana'

Bright House Networks Supports Net Literacy for an Eighth Year

Bright House Networks
Bright House Networks

Net Literacy is grateful that Bright House Networks took a chance on a group of middle school students that in 2004, wanted to reduce the digital divide and increase Internet safety awareness. Since then, Bright House Networks and Net Literacy have partnered together, donating more than 5,000 computers to schools and nonprofits. Bright House Networks has also supported Net Literacy’s student volunteers helping them to produce Internet safety PSAs and has carried them on their networks.

Listen to Bright House Networks’ Brooke Krodel explain why Bright House Networks has helped Net Literacy’s students for so many years, by clicking on the logo below.

WHJE Radio

Thank you Bright House Networks, for giving back to the community that you serve and making a difference to so many. To watch a video of the City of Indianapolis proclaiming Bright House Networks and the Techpoint Foundation Day, click on this link.


Daniel Kent
Student President

Net Literacy Increases Digital Inclusion Thanks to Intel, Bright House Networks, and The Techpoint Foundation

Net Literacy Computer Distribution Map for Indiana
Net Literacy Computer Distribution Map for Indiana

With the support of Bright House Networks, Intel, and the Techpoint Foundation, Net Literacy continues to expand its partnership with the Indiana Association of United Ways. In 2010, Net Literacy provided 4,000 computers to 17 counties in Indiana, and has provided over 12,000 computers to schools, libraries, and other nonprofits during the last three years alone.

“Since January of 2011, Net Literacy has already provided over three hundred computers to thirteen counties, and we are on track to donate another 4,000 computers to schools, libraries, and other nonprofits this year. Through our partnership with the Indiana Department of Administration, and organizations including Carmel Clay Schools, the City of Indianapolis, the Town of Fishers, Angie’s List, Marsh, and the Carmel Clay Library, in addition to hundred of individual donations, teams of student volunteers in over 20 schools throughout Indiana will all be helping to reduce the digital divide and increasing digital inclusion. It’s a team effort,” says Daniel Kent. “We have more than 500 computers that have been dedicated to our initiative with the United way that will increase computer access in at least 17 additional counties this year, and that excludes 750 additional computers being made available to schools through our partnership with the IDOE, IDOA, and IOT.”

For more information, contact Daniel Kent at [email protected]

Safe Connects Internet Safety Training Teaches 12,000 High School Students

Safe Connects Training
Safe Connects Training

Watch the 30 minute Internet safety training video created by Net Literacy student volunteers that’s being used by Indianapolis Public Schools to teach each of the 12,000 high school students receiving netbooks Internet safety. Later during the 2010-2011 school year, Safe Connects training will be taught by IPS high school students to an additional 5,000 3rd graders and 6th graders in a series of school presentations by high school Net Literacy student volunteers to their feeder elementary schools. Other school districts and nonprofits across the country also use Safe Connects Internet safety training materials. Watch the video by clicking on the image above or this link.

Students comprised 50% of Net Literacy Board of Directors, and student board members from T. C. Howe and New Tech High at Arsenal Tech serve as hosts, and the Public Service Announcements (PSAs) include student volunteers from Decatur Central School of IDEAS, Carmel High School, T.C. Howe, and New Tech High at Arsenal Tech.

Safe Connects is a program where students talk to other students about Internet safety in students’ own words. All of the content was written by student volunteers and reviewed by principals, parents, PTAs, and the the Indiana Department of Education. Net Literacy student volunteers also scripted and stared in the PSAs. However, Net Literacy is responsible for all content and materials.

In 2009, the Indiana General Assembly passed House Resolution 95 – which encouraged all Indiana Public, Education, and Government Channel to carry Net Literacy’s Safe Connects programing and other Internet safety content.

100,000s of individuals have viewed Net Literacy PSAs on Bright House Networks cable systems and broadcast stations. Bright House Networks helped fund and has provided Net Literacy student volunteers public service announcement avails so that we can get the word out about Internet safety. Thanks Bright House Networks!

For more information, contact [email protected]

Techpoint Foundation Increases Funding to Net Literacy by 50%

Techpoint Foundation
Techpoint Foundation

The Techpoint Foundation was instrumental in the creation of Net Literacy, providing Net Literacy its first funding by matching a grant from Bright House Networks in 2004. Since then, the Techpoint Foundation has continued to support Net Literacy by also providing mentoring, guidance, and advocacy. In 2005, Techpoint Foundation Vice Chair Marv Bailey joined the Net Literacy Board of Directors and in 2009, Techpoint Foundation Board member Damon Richards joined the Net Literacy Board of Directors.

In 2009, Net Literacy’s Student Executive Committee (Will Petrovic, Brian Kelley, and Daniel Kent) submitted an $8,000 grant request which supported 20 of Net Literacy chapters’ volunteering efforts. The chapters also competed for four $1,000 grants and the winning schools’ programs ranged from conducting summer camps that repurposed hundreds of computers and constructed a website, to teaching hundreds of elementary school students Internet safety skills. The Student Executive Committee was also involved in the selection and awarding of the grants to the chapters.

In 2010, Net Literacy’s Student Executive Committee requested last year’s combination of chapter mini-grants and $1000 grants be continued, and also applied for an additional $4,000 to help expand the use of technology to youth-oriented nonprofits in rural Indiana interested in building or expanding computer labs, for a $12,000 grant request.

The additional $4,000 will enable Net Literacy to continue its program of increasing computer access throughout the State, as requested by Net Literacy Honorary Board member Lt. Governor Skillman in 2009. Working with the Indiana Association of United Ways, Net Literacy has distributed 500 computers to 17 United Ways serving 85 agencies to date in 2010 – and the Techpoint Foundation’s additional funding, together with funding from Intel, will enable the program to expand into more than a dozen new counties during the 2010-2011 school year.

Please contact [email protected] for additional information.

Clowes Fund and Hoover Family Foundation Support Net Literacy, Again!

Hoover Family Foundation

Net Literacy is grateful for the Clowes Fund’s and the Hoover Family Foundation’s continuing support for Net Literacy’s digital literacy and digital inclusion projects.

After funding Net Literacy’s 2009 summer program, in 2010, the Hoover Family Foundation provided Net Literacy an annual grant of $10,000.

The Clowes Fund has supported Net Literacy since 2008, and this year, the Clowes Fund granted Net Literacy $17,500 for the years 2010 and 2011.

This funding enables student volunteers to repurpose thousands of computers each year which are donated to schools and nonprofits. Since 2003, Net Literacy has increased computer access to over 150,000 individuals. During the last three years, Net Literacy has donated over 11,000 computers. Research shows that as an independent variable, students with a computer at home are 6-8% more likely to graduate from high school. We couldn’t make a difference and be providing the computers we refurbish and our digital literacy services at no cost without the support and advocacy of our partners.

Thank you – Clowes Fund and the Hoover Family Foundation!


Daniel Kent

The Clowes Fund

Digital Literacy Endorsed by the I-Alliance


Net Literacy presented its new Digital Literacy “best practices” website at South Africa’s iWeek Conference. The “best practices” website that focuses on digital inclusion and digital literacy was acclaimed by Internet Service Provider associations from India to South Africa; and they asked to become Digital Literacy “best practices” partners. Meanwhile in America, the Wireless Communications Association International joined a growing number of Digital Literacy partners ranging from Intel to the US Internet Industry Association to Internet Industry Association, in Australia.

Also, Net Literacy met with the International Internet Industry Alliance and the Alliance decided to include digital inclusion and digital literacy as one of their five top priorities for the sharing of information so that digital literacy and digital inclusion can be facilitated. Digital Literacy’s website shares international digital inclusion and digital literacy “best practices” and helps the Alliance achieve their goals. Net Literacy was honored by being invited to join the Alliance. The Alliance is comprised of ISP Association that represent over 200,000 Internet-related organizations in five continents.

For more information, contact [email protected]


Social Responsibility and Engaging the Entire Family

Increasing Digital Inclusion is Socially Responsible and the Entire Family Must be Engaged in the Home Learning Process

Cost relevance and literacy are barriers to adoption and those barriers affect some sub-sections of our population more than other sections. Since broadband is a gateway to the empowerment that the Internet offers, it is socially responsible to encourage broadband adoption and digital inclusion. Computers for Youth has learned that it is vitally important to involve the entire family. Parents play a critical role and are the gatekeepers in the home and their engagement in the learning process facilitates home learning, digital inclusion, and digital literacy. Speakers at the Roadmap to Broadband Adoption held in Washington DC by the USIIA, Net Literacy, and Broadband for America included:

  • Karen Perry, FCC National Broadband Taskforce
  • Blair Levin, Communications & Society Fellow, Aspen Institute
  • Elisabeth Stock, President, Computers for Youth
Increasing Digital Inclusion is Socially Responsible and the Entire Family Must be Engaged in the Home Learning Process
Increasing Digital Inclusion is Socially Responsible and the Entire Family Must be Engaged in the Home Learning Process