When CTN officially gained its nonprofit status in 2008, only 55% of Americans had access to in-home broadband internet. Websites sported a clunky aesthetic, now considered a “throwback” style. Apple released the iPhone 3G and created its App Store. Twitter was just getting off the ground. Instagram wouldn’t launch for another two years. Life online looked vastly different than it does today. And though technology will continue to change, our mission remains consistent: to transform lives through digital literacy.
Throughout the past 14 years, this mission has taken on new meanings and new approaches. CTN has evolved and adapted alongside the internet — serving new populations, reimagining programming, and expanding our services. In the beginning, we focused on serving partner organizations within inner-city San Francisco, working with learners at libraries and senior centers. Over time, we branched out to the wider Bay Area and beyond, eventually making our way to Central Texas.
As CTN expanded geographically, we also expanded the scope of our services. When the pandemic made it clear that we could no longer rely on our traditional in-person service delivery model, we quickly pivoted to launch a fully virtual training program: Home Connect. In addition to offering one-on-one digital literacy training, this program provides learners with a free configured device as well as assistance in securing low-cost broadband internet.
In both our virtual and in-person training programs, we’ve explored new topics, trained in eight different languages, and built partnerships with established organizations to best understand the need. Over the years, our Digital Parents program has taught parents skills that allow them to better communicate with the schools, monitor their children’s technology use, and seek job and economic opportunities. In 2020, we began partnering with UCSF to help older adults and patients utilize telemedicine throughout the pandemic. As we continuously explore new ways for learners to embrace technology, we’ve worked with Sourcewise to train 400+ older adults how to use a Google Home speaker device.
With 14 years under our belt, there’s no shortage of awesome programs and partnerships to highlight. Of course, none of this work would be possible without a network of dedicated volunteers, staff members, and board members. What began as one volunteer program manager has become a growing organization of 34 staff members and contractors. Countless individuals and board members have donated their time and money to our mission. And with the introduction of remote volunteering through our virtual training, we now have active volunteers in 17 different states! We say it often, but never enough: our community is filled with some incredible humans, and we are continuously grateful for your support!
As we reflect on this long journey we’ve been on together, we also look forward to what’s to come. Today, about 21 million Americans still lack broadband internet access — despite the growing importance of the internet in our daily lives. Digital equity is more crucial than ever. We hope you continue to follow our journey and get involved as we work together for a more digitally inclusive world!
Wanna make a difference today? In celebration of our 14 years, we are asking for monthly or one-time donations of $14 to support digital inclusion. Give today!