Cox Communications and Knight Foundation recently announced that Macon/Bibb County will participant in the 60 day expanded pilot for Connect2Compete. The pilot is a national collaboration to provide low cost Internet service, $150 computers and digital training for qualifying families with students in the Bibb County Public Schools. Although I expected the announcement would be well received, I did not expect the level of support that emerged from our community.
The Superintendent and School Board unanimously welcomed the effort and community members sent emails saying how pleased they are that Macon had been chosen for the expanded pilot. The level of support surprised me, because frankly I didn’t realize how much everyone truly understands the power of the Internet. Having the access to and knowledge of how to use a computer is critical for low-wealth families in the 21st century.
Connect2Compete is a bold experiment with a lot of moving parts. It is a national effort that can only be successful if implemented with care and commitment on the local level. It is complex because it involves government (national and local), school systems, for profit cable companies, foundations and non-profits. And because no matter how grand the idea, if it is not nurtured locally, success will not follow.
In Macon, we aim to exhibit how a national effort implemented smartly on the local level can bring tools and learning to create informed and engaged communities. We’re flying this jet as we’re building it and looking forward to the next 60 days. It's a great adventure and we embrace the challenge and opportunity!
By Beverly Blake, program director/Macon at Knight Foundation
Knight's support of the Connect2Compete pilot in Macon is part of its $3 million committment to the program.