EveryoneOn Celebrates 1st Anniversary of ConnectHome

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Celebration Includes #ConnectHome Kids Can Code! Program for Families Living in HUD-assisted Housing in Washington, D.C.

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We are proud to be the nonprofit lead for the ConnectHome initiative. The accomplishments of the communities over the last year have been monumental, connecting thousands of families to home Internet service, digital literacy education, and devices

Last week, EveryoneOn, along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other stakeholders, celebrated the first anniversary of the innovative initiative, ConnectHome.

“ConnectHome is opening doors of opportunity for our next generation of Americans,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “In one short year, the initiative has expanded its reach to more than 1.5 million children. We’re proud today to stand with EveryoneOn and our stakeholders to celebrate the tremendous progress we’ve made to give kids the tools they need to succeed in our 21st century global economy.”

Friday’s event also included remarks from Rob Serger, Best Buy Senior Market Director; Adrianne Todman, District of Columbia Housing Authority Executive Director; Chike Aguh, CEO of EveryoneOn; Danilo Campos, Technical Director of Social Impact at GitHub; and Devonte Gooding, a Best Buy Teen Tech Center student.

Gooding, now a college student, credits the Best Buy Teen Tech center and its support of technology training for helping him find his passion for photography. “And, as James Brown said, ‘Just open the door and I will make my way through’. That is exactly what the Teen Tech center has done for me,” he said to a rousing round of applause.

“Devonte is a living example of Best Buy’s commitment to giving underserved youth the tech training and tools they need to further their education and careers,” Serger said. “We genuinely believe we can nurture and inspire a new generation of engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, designers, artists and dreamers. Some of them will come from the very teens who have joined us today to build computers – and they will help open the door to new possibilities for others.”

One Year Later: ConnectHome’s Impact

In July 2015, President Obama and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) Secretary Julián Castro announced ConnectHome, an initiative to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing. Through ConnectHome, Internet service providers, nonprofits, and the private sector are offering broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units in 28 pilot communities across the nation. ConnectHome creates a platform to help ensure that students have access to high-speed Internet for studying and doing their homework at home, as well as in school.

“We are proud to be the nonprofit lead for the ConnectHome initiative. The accomplishments of the communities over the last year have been monumental, connecting thousands of families to home Internet service, digital literacy education, and devices,” said Chike Aguh, EveryoneOn’s chief executive officer. “As we further this digital inclusion work in the coming years, we will continue to coordinate with communities and on-the-ground partners to further their commitment to Internet for all. We are keenly aware that the Internet is life changing for families and their community, and we are encouraged by the tremendous start. Much has been done but there is still so much to do, and we at EveryoneOn will diligently support any and all efforts to the end the digital divide.”

As part of the celebration, EveryoneOn, GitHub, and Kano hosted a #ConnectHome Kids Can Code! Program for approximately 50 middle-school and high-school students at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington’s FBR Branch at THEARC in Southeast D.C. The program, with help from Best Buy employee volunteers and Geek Squad Agents at several Best Buy Teen Tech Centers in ConnectHome communities, teaches teens how to build their own Kano computers, which they can then take home. GitHub and Kano developed a customized instructional curriculum specifically for the devices and these training sessions.

During the first part of the training, the teens analyzed and followed the instructions within the curriculum to assemble their devices, often collaborating with their neighbors to build their computers together. Volunteers from EveryoneOn, GitHub, Kano, and Best Buy were all on hand to help any teens who found the assembly a tad challenging. One of the teenagers, Kayla, described the opportunity to own her own computer as “providing a window into an awesome new world”. After the teens finished building their computers, they got to customize them with colorful stickers and play with them. The first session ended with the teens enthusiastically exploring the world of coding through specially developed versions of games like Minecraft.

A second training was held in the afternoon and introduced a younger group of children to the world of technology. Campos from GitHub presented a history of computer innovation that went from Boolean-based complex calculators to the advent of laptops and smartphones. The youth were fascinated and repeatedly interjected with questions such as “why is that computer so big?” and “where is the touchscreen?”, as Campos described innovations such as semi-conductors and microchips. At the end of the presentation, each kid received a laptop computer to take home.

This was the second in a series of training events that are being held across the country. Additional communities will include Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; New York City, NY; and San Antonio, TX. Tentatively, EveryoneOn plans to distribute at least 600 Kano devices at these training events across these markets in 2016 and 2017.

EveryoneOn is one of Best Buy’s 16 national nonprofit partners that provide educational resources to help bridge the technology gap for among underserved youth to help them prepare for a tech-reliant future.

About EveryoneOn

EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit that aims to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet, computers, and free digital literacy training accessible to all unconnected U.S. residents. Since 2012, EveryoneOn has connected more than 300,000 low-income households. For more information about EveryoneOn, visit EveryoneOn.org.

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