Photo: Mara Stewart (left), an intensive care manager at the Ping Yuen North, thanks CTN employee Annie Tan for delivering and setting up devices in preparation for remote resident training.
San Francisco Digital Equity Manager Alex Banh is San Francisco’s champion when it comes to providing connection and education to communities left out of the digital revolution. In 2017, he tapped the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) to fund initial programs addressing the digital divide. RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) housing sites, recently renovated and upgraded to include a broadband access point in each housing unit, were the focus of this initiative.
CTN was an early digital literacy training partner in this effort, funded by MOHCD for 2017–18 and again in 2019–20. This funding has been extended for three additional months due to COVID-19. CTN’s initial role was to provide in-person, group technology training and devices to the residents of several RAD sites, including Ping Yuen North (managed by Chinatown Community Development Corporation) and Alemany Apartments and Holly Courts (both managed by Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center).
Although the in-person training was discontinued due to the pandemic-induced stay-at-home restrictions, the development, expansion, and continuing success of CTN’s new Home Connect program has allowed training to resume in the new remote format via phone and video conferencing. CTN added desktop sharing and video conferencing tools to the devices, and our resident services partners within each site have assisted with the delivery of the devices and printed curriculum to enrolled participants.
The assistance of the resident services staff at each site is highly valued by CTN and much appreciated. They help us build relationships with residents who, in many cases, have a history of being neglected or overlooked by society and may find it hard to trust new people. We know it is difficult for those with no tech experience to learn from scratch remotely. They may get easily frustrated and discouraged and feel inadequate, all of which requires the deep commitment of our instructors to be patient and supportive and to provide lots of follow-up and scheduling flexibility.
CTN staff instructors include Al Ho, Carlos Sivira, Kate Sheludziayeva, and Annie Tan, who work with residents to help them join the digital community. We appreciate their hard work and commitment to those members of our community still living on the wrong side of the digital divide.