MILWAUKEE – Feb. 7, 2019 – Digital Bridge of Milwaukee joined Mayor Tom Barrett, Spectrum representatives, and leaders from area businesses and nonprofits today at a special event to unveil plans for a new initiative, referred to as “Bridge Milwaukee”. The effort will allow Digital Bridge to join forces with area nonprofits to provide an innovative program that combines digital literacy with access to high-speed broadband and a working device.
This new initiative is supported through a $32,500 Spectrum Digital Education Grant and Digital Bridge’s partnerships with area businesses and community organizations. At the event, Digital Bridge announced initial agreements with City on a Hill, Riverwest Food Pantryand Riverworks Center to host Bridge Milwaukee sessions at their facilities in early 2019, with additional sessions planned as more Milwaukee area non-profits learn about the program and of its availability.
“Access to technology has always been at the heart of Digital Bridge’s mission,” says Jeff Hanson, Executive Director of Digital Bridge. “But we know families face barriers in today’s digital landscape. That’s why we worked to incorporate both training and issues of access and affordability into this program. ‘Bridge Milwaukee’ will help participants gain confidence to fully engage in a digital society. And we’re taking the program out into the community to reach Milwaukee residents who are already engaged with area nonprofits that have a facility and willingness to host the sessions.”
Digital Bridge piloted a digital literacy program with City on a Hill in late 2018, a success that shaped the Spectrum grant request. City on a Hill Executive Director Diane De La Santos says what worked especially well for participants was the fact that the course came to them.
“We know our families and can see who is often at the center using our technology; often times they don’t have access at home or they need some assistance. To equip youth for a successful future we need to remove the obstacles that get in their way — and the digital divide is one of them. With the help of Digital Bridge, City on a Hill was able to offer a 10-week digital arts class to young people, and then send each one of them home with a computer, monitor and keyboard for their families. For most this was their first computer ever, and the parents were thrilled.”
The Bridge Milwaukee program will allow people to enhance skills, enable participants to more successfully to help seek out employment, further their family’s education or just stay connected with what’s happening with their families and in the community.
“I am pleased to hear that Spectrum and Digital Bridge have partnered to launch Bridge Milwaukee, bringing valuable digital literacy services to residents of our city,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “Now more than ever it is important that we prepare residents to take advantage of the economic opportunities in our city and to be more connected to the world of technology.”
Digital Bridge of Milwaukee and 22 other deserving nonprofit organizations were chosen from among more than 170 applicants as Spectrum Digital Education Grant recipients — part of an overall $1 million commitment by Spectrum to provide digital education in the communities it serves. Spectrum Digital Education grants support organizations that help educate families and seniors on the benefits of broadband and how to use it to improve their lives. Through the $1 million effort, Spectrum will also provide PSAs, workshops and other technical assistance to local nonprofits.
“In our increasingly technology-driven world, the importance of digital education and access to digital resources cannot be overstated,” said Ralph Newcomb, Area Vice President for Spectrum’s Wisconsin-based Operations. “Through the Spectrum Digital Education Grant Program, we partner with Digital Bridge and area community organizations to help bridge the digital divide and provide more Milwaukee residents with the tools and knowledge to grow and prosper in the digital age.”