Skye Downing’s passion for digital equity developed many years ago.
“My son and I lived in a low-income part of town, and I offered the principal of his elementary school to help start a newsletter so that parents could know when things were happening,” she says. “The principal told me that more than half of the population was not online. They either didn’t have devices, email addresses, or internet access. It was then that I first stumbled across the digital divide.”
Currently, as CTN’s capacity-building program manager, Skye develops curricula for other organizations so that they can provide digital literacy training to their clients. She also helps them implement the curriculum by providing “wrap-around support.” She says, “It’s not just ‘Here’s your curriculum, bye.’ We want all of the programs to be successful and sustainable.” Skye says CTN also works to make the curriculum accessible and customized based on each organization’s needs.
Through this work, Skye believes CTN can make a major difference. “It’s like the old adage: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. If we train 10 organizations and they each serve 50 to 100 people, our impact is expanded. If we hope to close, or even bridge, the digital divide, this is a sensible way to go about it.”
2022 is an exciting year for Skye. She leads CTN’s DigitalLIFT pilot program, which will train 10 qualified partner agencies in Caldwell County, Texas. The program will give the agencies the knowledge and support they need to integrate digital literacy programming into their daily service delivery.
Going forward, Skye will continue to fight for equal digital access for all. “I have very much a servant’s heart and a heart for nonprofit work. There is no reason that not everyone should have the tools they need to lead healthy, sustainable lives, and technology is a big part of our lives now, whether we like it or not.”