Access to a computer and high-speed internet are more important than ever to the success of the Bay Area’s students, job seekers and families. 47% of low-income students in the East Bay don’t even have access to a computer at home. In addressing this need, Get Connected Oakland hosted the first annual East Bay Tech Fair at the Oakland Public Library, 81st Avenue Branch on May 12th, 2018.
The East Oakland Tech Fair successfully attracted an attendance of more than 300, a portion of Bay Area community members who are “digitally dark.” The event offered residents access to available community technology services and resources in a fun and welcoming space, with the purpose of closing the digital divide for all Oakland residents.
“It has been hard to home-school my son without a computer. Next year, he is going into third grade and after receiving a computer from Tech Exchange my son will be able to use online learning programs, and complete all of his essays.”
Attendees had the opportunity to explore education technology learning tools, sign-up for low-cost internet, receive digital skills training classes, and walk-away with a free refurbished desktop computer. OUSD high school students also could receive a free mobile device with data plan and hot-spot functionality.
Education Technology Learning Tools. Tech partners such as Hack the Hood, Tech Hire, and Mission Bit took part in the fair to provide tech resources and hands-on engagement to community members. Attendees were introduced to local tech programs and supplied with learning tools to use at home.
Low-Cost Internet. 100% of the families who attended the event are from low-income backgrounds. Attendees were provided with resources to learn about and sign up for $10/month internet options.
Digital Skills Training Classes. Attendees had the option to attend 25-minute digital skills workshops. The workshops covered basic computer concepts and skills such as online ethics, interacting with social media, data privacy and security and information literacy.
Free Refurbished Desktop Computer. As a pledge to ending the “digital divide”, Tech Exchange supplied 148 attending families with a free refurbished desktop computer.
Free Mobile Device with Data Plan and Hotspot. OUSD students received the equipment and connectivity they needed to complete their schoolwork from home as part of the Sprint 1Million Project.
“We came to the East Oakland Tech Fair because my mom cannot afford to buy me a computer. Almost all of my homework I have to complete is using the computer. I either go to school early or stay late. Now, I will be able to do my homework at home and I was also able to get a cell phone!” -OUSD High School Student
Without Internet and computer access, students struggle to complete schoolwork and fall behind their peers in developing the digital literacy skills that are essential in an evolving workplace. Adults miss out on the ability to complete necessary tasks including paying bills, accessing benefits and healthcare, fulfilling workplace and social communication needs, and gaining information to empower themselves and their families on a daily basis. Adults without Internet and computers also struggle to effectively job search - and increasingly as schools move to digital platforms - parents miss opportunities to engage with school communities and to support their children’s school work and academic efforts.
“It has been difficult to apply to jobs without a computer because I do not have a car and I have four kids. After attending the East Oakland Tech Fair, I will be able to use my computer to apply for jobs, and my kids will be able to do their homework at home. Instead of going to the library.” -Community Member
Providing computer access, increasing Internet adoption rates and educating community members on digital literacy are three critical inputs to closing the divide in our community. Get Connected Oakland takes pride on closing the “digital divide” and providing a space, such as the East Oakland Tech Fair. As technology continues to be more important to our society as we increase our reliance upon computers, mobile devices, the Internet, and other technologies to aid in our everyday lives!
Help Us Eliminate the Digital Divide
Volunteers are essential in our mission to get the East Bay connected. We welcome all residents to join us in preparing computer equipment for distribution to schools, community centers and homes throughout the city.
Please visit our website www.techexchange.org, to see the different ways you can donate your time or technology as we bridge the digital divide!