learn / 2014

Bridging the Divide in LA: Language and Digital Literacy Pilot

Bridging the Divide in LA: Language and Digital Literacy Pilot

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by EveryoneOn

We're working with Centro Latino and human-I-T to provide free computers, Internet service and literacy courses for low/non-literate adults.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

We’re working with Centro Latino and human-I-T to provide free computers, Internet service and literacy courses for low/non-literate adults.

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

EveryoneOn is seeking support for a pilot program in LA that will reward 200 non-literate Spanish-speaking adults who complete Centro Latino’s Pre-English as a Second Language (ESL) literacy courses with a free refurbished computer preloaded with basic digital literacy content; free online and classroom-instructed literacy courses, and one year of free home broadband Internet service and equipment.

The entire refurbishing process will be open to local volunteers and interns to provide these individuals with free digital and vocational skills necessary for competing in the 21st century workforce. We will reward up to 100 eligible unconnected volunteers with free home routers and 3 free months of affordable Internet service.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

EveryoneOn will leverage our existing platform of low-cost offers to provide Internet service and computers. The funds received for this grant will provide free routers and low-cost home Internet service (valued at $10/month). We will partner with human-I-T staff and volunteers to provide donated, refurbished computers with customized software that includes digital literacy content and Windows 7 Professional.

We will work with Centro Latino for Literacy to provide these benefits to the adult graduates of their Leamos(TM) (“Let’s Read”) Basic and Functional Pre-ESL literacy courses. These courses teach adults with zero to three years of primary schooling how to read, write, perform math functions, and overcome their fear of technology; skills that are necessary to be functional in today’s world.

Collectively will leverage all of our partners on the ground in LA to promote awareness of this pilot to nonprofits and prospective volunteers.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

The detrimental effects of illiteracy are often compounded because of a lack of resources, geographic isolation, or underdeveloped education programs. Many schools and educational institutions lack the resources and materials for comprehensive literacy programs, and library systems and many teachers are under-trained. As a result, the children of low- to non-literate parents are at risk of growing up illiterate, without ever having the opportunity to develop an appreciation for reading. A report released by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that “a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors such as neighborhood and family income.”

There are over 1.6 million non-literate Spanish-speaking adults in the U.S.; 222,320 are in Los Angeles County. Leamos was designed by Centro Latino for Literacy to help non-literate Spanish-speaking adults become literate in Spanish first, thereby preparing them to learn ESL. Leamos Basic is a mouse-driven, audio-visual, online course that teaches non-literate Spanish speakers to read and write at a basic level. Graduates proceed to the second–a classroom-based functional literacy course that teaches basic grammar, math and financial education. In 2013, 96% of adults enrolled in the Centro Latino’s courses were parents and more than 70% had between zero and two years of schooling.

Our collaborative pilot project will help make LA the best place to learn by encouraging reading comprehension and providing Spanish-speaking parents with the skills and technology needed to help them and their children succeed. This program will be transformative for its participants by leveling the digital divide while simultaneously improving parent reading and digital literacy rates, which will lead to improved educational outcomes for both parents and students.

We are also encouraging volunteerism in LA with technology and providing free technical and vocational skills to participating volunteers in the local community. By providing some of LA’s most marginalized populations access to literacy software and home Internet service, we are seeking to bridge the opportunity gap for parents, students and volunteers.

Following the successful implementation of this pilot program, we will be able to improve and replicate this program making LA a national model for learning, a national model for learning and connecting by 2050.

Whom will your project benefit?

This is an opportunity for working age adults; a vast majority of whom are parents, who have never had any formal primary schooling. One third of Centro Latino students are indigenous speakers with Spanish as their second language. The ultimate goal of these students is to learn English. We want to encourage them and their children to value and retain their primary and secondary languages as they learn English. Recent research has shown both the health and economic value of having multilingual skills.

Volunteers without home internet access that participate in this project will also benefit from free equipment and home Internet access. The Volunteer Corps at Centro Latino consists mainly of first generation college students and professionals, and about 60% of human-I-T volunteers/interns are late high school to early college age (17-23); both of which will greatly benefit from vocational skills and free home access to the Internet.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Our partners Centro Latino for Literacy and Human-I-T are confirmed partners for this pilot project. Since 1991, Centro Latino for Literacy has been putting non-to-low literate adults on the pathway to learning English as a second language (ESL) through its unique and innovative courses. Centro Latino’s approach builds the foundational skills and confidence needed for native Spanish speakers to learn English and pursue greater educational and income opportunities.

human-I-T is a nonprofit organization working transform unwanted or inoperative laptops and computers into operational education tools for the millions in need. human-I-T strives to go beyond recycling by taking a progressive approach to e-waste management, vocational training, and the digital divide.

EveryoneOn works with outreach and enrollment partner organizations to provide free digital literacy content and pre-qualify low-income, unconnected families for our low-cost technology and home Internet service offers. We have worked with these organizations and many others to drive technology adoption in LA and across the country.

The two factors that are critical to the success of this collaboration are funding and outreach/community awareness. Once funding has been secured, we will collectively leverage our networks and partners on the ground in LA to drive outreach and awareness.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?

  • Percentage of children enrolled in early education programs
  • Percentage of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment
  • District-wide graduation rates
  • HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math
  • Academic Performance Index scores
  • College matriculation rates
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

By equipping parents and volunteers with reading comprehension and digital literacy skills, as well as home Internet access, we plan to improve education and employment outcomes for graduates and volunteers, as well as their families.

More than 80% of teachers agree that today’s digital technologies are leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools and school districts. According to the FCC, already 80% of all job listings are exclusively listed online.Through this collaborative pilot project, we aim to eliminate the disparities around home access for all.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Through quantitative and qualitative surveys, analytics on data usage, and longitudinal studies of test and control groups, we will measure the long-term impact of digital inclusion on our beneficiaries against the following key metrics:

  • Improved education outcomes for graduates as measured by ESL course completion and further educational pursuit;

  • Improved education outcomes for volunteers as measured by academic success, high school completion, college preparedness, and higher education enrollment and completion.

  • Improved employment and economic outcomes for both graduates and volunteers as measured by increased job skills, job attainment, and increased savings achieved online.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

Technology has changed the way we do business, pursue education, find jobs, and interact with everyone from our family to our doctor to our members of Congress. Yet close to 1 in 5 U.S. residents do not use the Internet. Disproportionately from low-income and minority communities, these populations risk becoming increasingly isolated from our digital society because they lack access to the Internet and the skills necessary to use it effectively.

As technology is reinventing our education, jobs, and health sectors; the divide is deepening. In today’s job market, a basic level of reading comprehension and digital literacy is absolutely critical – 77% of jobs will require these skills in the next five years. In addition, more and more teachers increasingly finding themselves in the difficult position of either leaving students behind without Internet at home or holding back the other “connected” students.

Despite the increasing inequity, we now enjoy nearly ubiquitous coverage, dropping technology costs, and unprecedented alignment of public-private opinion on the importance of digital inclusion. Simply put, the digital divide in America today is solvable – but a solution will require bold action and collective will.

Since launching our expanded low-cost Internet and technology offers in 2013, we have connected over 161,000 U.S. households to free and low-cost, high-speed Internet. By leveraging our partnerships nationwide with community anchor institutions and local nonprofit organizations on the ground, we are able to engage our target segment with an effective, localized approach.

We are uniquely positioned to dramatically accelerate technology adoption for all LA residents. Success ultimately depends on our ability to align cross-sector partners around the intrinsic and extrinsic incentives for bold action and catalytic investment. We are collaborating with nonprofit partners Centro Latino for Literacy, human-I-T and supporters to develop and deliver solutions to the growing digital divide for all unconnected populations in LA. The simple, yet powerful potential of our model is clear – ensuring everyone in America can leverage the transformative power of technology and the Internet will create a more just and prosperous future for each beneficiary and volunteer, each partner, and for the entire nation.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

By leveraging EveryoneOn’s existing platform of low-cost home Internet offers, new and existing programs provided by our partners at Centro Latino for Literacy and human-I-T, as well as our collective reach in LA, we are positioned to begin implementation of this project immediately.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

We anticipate encountering challenges in finding volunteers and technology donations. Human-I-T relies solely on donations of old technology from the public and private sector to provide the refurbished devices. We plan to expand and leverage our local and national partnerships with community anchor institutions, volunteer organizations and nonprofits to drive awareness around the project and its incentives for volunteers and donors of unwanted technology.

We will also develop a strategy for training staff and interns at Centro Latino and human-I-T around our Internet service and computer offers, as well as the details of this project to help raise awareness and facilitate enrollment and adoption for both graduates and volunteers. Facilitated enrollment by knowledgeable staff/volunteers will also increase the likelihood of technology retention.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)