When the pandemic hit, Community Tech Network quickly changed its focus to support older adults who lack home internet access. We built a new program, called Home Connect, thanks to our longstanding partnership with the Department of Disability and Aging Services in San Francisco, who funded the staff time to develop it. Local foundations and corporations covered the cost of tablets provided to seniors.
As we built and improved this program, we started sharing our knowledge with other agencies across the country. Several groups in Austin, Texas, were the first to participate in our training for trainers program.
Through participation in the Social Inclusion Task Force in Austin, CTN developed partnerships with a few agencies that were interested in using our curriculum and replicating our Home Connect model. These agencies were awarded grants to address the social isolation experienced by older adults as a result of the stay-at-home order and participated in CTN’s training program to get started.
This led to the creation of Senior Connect, a collaboration between Senior Access, AGE of Central Texas, and CTN. Replicating nearly all aspects of the Home Connect program, Senior Connect has secured enough funding to provide 150 older adults in Central Texas with home internet, a 10-inch Android tablet, and up to 17 hours of remote digital literacy training.
As of June 17, the pilot program has had 55 referrals, 10 people have completed the five hours of basic training, and 10 are currently in various stages of training, with two more nearing completion. Senior Connect learner Patricia Blaine has this to say about the program: “There is a big world out there and now we can bring it to ourselves.”
This collaboration wouldn’t be possible without financial support from
- All Together ATX
- City of Pflugerville
- Capital Area Council on Government (CAPCOG)
- City of Austin
- Consumer Technology Association Foundation
With only 55.3 percent of Texans age 65 and older having broadband at home, helping 150 older adults is barely scratching the surface of the need that exists. One reason for this is the lack of affordable broadband options, but lack of devices and digital skills are also factors. This means that over a million older adults in Texas can’t video chat with family, participate in telehealth, order medications and groceries, or apply online for benefits. Now is the time for us to make a difference in our community!
If you currently work with older adults and are interested in helping them get home internet, a tablet, and remote training, email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about partnership opportunities.