Next year, Community Technology Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary as an independent 501(c)(3). From its humble origins as a project of TechSoup, CTN’s programmatic reach has massively expanded. In the beginning, we served only partners within inner-city San Francisco, but in the past few years, we’ve crossed the bridge to the East Bay and ventured down highway 101 to the South Bay. We are currently setting up partnerships as far away as Petaluma and Fresno.
The simple reason for this expansion is community need. Cities all over the Bay Area, and much further afield, want to help their citizens get online but lack the know-how. CTN has built a wealth of experience over the past decade, and we want to share our simple, replicable model more widely in order to help transform a greater number of lives through digital literacy.
In our second decade, our ambition is to become a nationwide resource — perhaps even an international one — offering needs assessments, program planning and evaluation support, curriculum, community outreach strategies, and training to any partner anywhere. But this is no attempt at empire building. CTN knows that the success of any digital inclusion initiative depends upon the quality of local leadership, and we are committed to finding and supporting those leaders to run their own programs.
It’s important to note, however, that our determination to broaden our scope is not only about sharing what we know. It is about gathering intelligence from other successful projects and bringing it back to our Bay Area home base. By more actively seeking partnerships with other agencies, we can be an even more powerful agent of digital change in Northern California.
The mission to position CTN as a national resource is already well underway. In the last 12 months, I have had the honor of speaking at the Net Inclusion Summit (St. Paul, Minnesota), the Nonprofit Technology Conference (Washington, D.C.), and the Schools, Health, Library, Broadband Coalition (Washington, D.C.). I also support the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) as a founding member of their Directing Council and provide guidance to their Digital Inclusion Corps initiative to develop rural and tribal digital literacy projects.
In the coming months, I’ll be sharing more news about our expansion program. In the meantime, look out for a new CTN blog series, coming soon, that will profile the most inspiring digital inclusion stories from around the country. For more information about partnering with CTN to develop new digital inclusion projects in your area, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.