After completion of a six-week digital literacy program in November, six graduates at Sunridge Apartments in northeast Charlotte are now able to accomplish tasks identified by a national housing connectivity initiative.
Data from ConnectHomeUSA indicates that three key reasons for computer access are education, workforce development, and access to healthcare information — 96.5 percent of people use it for education, 84 percent use it to apply for jobs, and 59 percent for healthcare.
ConnectHome USA in Charlotte, a coalition of city and county agencies and non-profits, connects residents in federally subsidized housing to the internet by offering information on free or low-cost broadband access, free digital literacy classes, and devices.
Meredith Banks, a volunteer with Digital Charlotte and student at Queens University, saw substantial growth over the six weeks of the program. Sunridge was one of four Charlotte Housing Authority communities to participate in the ConnectHome initiative. The other three were Meadow Oaks, Dillehay Courts, and Southside Homes. At Sunridge, Meredith supported computer basics.
“Over the course of these past six weeks I’ve seen a lot of change,” said Meredith. “At the beginning we started off with the basics such as turning on and off computers and by the end of the course we were making Youtube playlists and using Gmail accounts. It was a big jump from our initial first class.”
Regular attendance results in students receiving a certificate of completion and a laptop computer. At Sunridge, six students earned a computer.
Tina Marshall, a volunteer for Digital Charlotte, gave her personal opinion about the importance of technology.
“For me it’s mostly getting information: news, contacting people, finding out what’s going on around town,” said Tina. “These days as far as I’m concerned, it’s as important as lights, gas and utilities.”
Meredith said she enjoyed being a teaching assistant and said the students learned several essential skills.
“It’s such a rewarding experience. The students learn a lot and they’re really appreciative of everything we’ve taught them,” she said. “They are learning skills that are so important for everything these days.”
Photo above: Digital Charlotte volunteer Tina Marshall (left) with instructor Dottie Stowe.