Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Connecting Philly

April 6, 2012, 10:13 a.m., Posted by Donna Frisby-Greenwood

This week in Philadelphia, just ahead of Philly Tech Week, we helped introduce a new tool to the public.  It aggregates locations across the city that provide access to the Internet.

mapThe tool, called Connect Philly, helps people find free, or affordable, online access and also computer training opportunities. It allows residents to send their address via text message to 215.240.7296 and find the closest available Internet access point.

In a city, where according to a 2008 report, 40% of households lack broadband access, finding a connection is critical to promoting informed and engaged communities.

I had the pleasure of kicking off yesterday's launch with Technically PhillyJ-LAB, the city of Philadelphia, KEYSPOT and the Free Library of Philadelphia in City Hall’s Conversation Hall.  Brian James Kirk, co-founder of Technically Philly, demonstrated the website and SMS text application.  Chris Wink, co-founder of Technically Philly, moderated a great panel discussion on the progress that we’ve made in Philadelphia since the 2008 report as well as the challenges ahead.  The panel featured  Siobhan Reardon, president and director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Brigitte Daniel, executive vice president, Wilco Electronic Systems, Charles Kaylor, visiting assistant professor in the department of geography at Temple University,  Bryan Mercer of Media Mobilizing Project and Bret Perkins, V.P. government relations, Comcast.  

Bringing millennial-led engagement to Miami

April 6, 2012, 8:58 a.m., Posted by Maya Enista Smith

Knight Foundation has funded Mobilize.org to expand its community-based, millennial-led engagement projects into five Knight communities. Here, Mobilize.org's CEO Maya Enista Smith, blogs about the organization’s upcoming Target 2020 Summit in Miami, Fla.

On June 1-3, 2012, 100 students from South Florida’s community colleges will gather to identify barriers they face in achieving their educational goals, develop student-led solutions to address them and have the chance to win funding to turn their ideas into a campus or community project. 

It's the Target 2020 Florida Summit in Miami, Fla. and Mobilize.org is currently recruiting students to participate. Are you a student enrolled in a community college? Have you faced or overcome difficulties in completing your education?  Do you have creative ideas on ways your community and school can better support you and your peers in completing their education?  Could you use a share of $25K to launch your idea? Or do you know a student that could? If so, Mobilize.org wants to hear from you.

All selected Target 2020 participants will receive meals and two-night hotel accommodations, provided by Mobilize.org. Travel reimbursements are also available upon request and approval by the Mobilize.org staff. Participants interested in attending should visit www.mobilize.org/Target2020FL to learn more and apply.

The Mobilize.org team recently announced the participation of Martha J. Kanter, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, as summit’s Keynote Speaker.

kanterAs Under Secretary, Kanter successfully implemented the Direct Student Loan Program. This program resulted in a 50 percent increase in college enrollment, showing her devotion to increasing graduation and employment opportunities for community college students.  With roots as a community college leader in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, and as an alternative high school teacher, Kanter is well aware of the challenges facing the education system. Her leadership over the years is a testament to the passion she has for educational equity.

Five lessons in bridging the digital divide

April 5, 2012, 9:04 a.m., Posted by Jorge Martinez and Mayur Patel

 

Three years ago, Knight Foundation set out to find ways to bridge the digital divide in Detroit, a formidable task in a city where less than 40 percent of households have broadband access.

We approached the challenge by focusing on three, high poverty neighborhoods, and set out to fund a broadband network there in addition to digital literacy training.

What we discovered with this project could provide lessons on what works and what doesn’t for communities trying to digitally connect the 100 million Americans without home broadband access.

The insights are part of our new report on digital access in Detroit.  Written by journalist Fara Warner, it details the significant difficulties faced in installing a Wi-Fi network: one company considered building towers for free, but pulled out; another donated several towers but the signal didn’t, in the end, cover the entire area. 

Nonprofits and civic leaders seeking to close the digital divide in their communities should instead consider these major insights outlined in Warner’s report: