Transforming lives through digital literacy.


About a year ago, Michelle Duke, Associate Director of Communications and Administration at Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC), approached CTN to see if we might provide training to their staff. THC often hires from the population they serve, and they are committed to providing opportunities for staff members to develop their skills to gain higher-level jobs and increased pay. They use spreadsheets extensively to track information about properties and residents.

This was an arena CTN had also been thinking about — advancing beyond basic digital literacy to job-ready competence. And so we proceeded with shared enthusiasm. CTN developed a new curriculum to teach Excel to individuals with very basic computer skills and little prior exposure to Microsoft Office or Google Suite. Participant response was enthusiastic. They appreciated the opportunity to acquire skills and THC’s investment in them.

Now, a year later, we are offering the curriculum again with some tweaks (even more hands-on) and improvements (more optional advanced functionality). The most recent class (pictured) included students who had jobs that did not require using a computer, but they wanted to learn skills that they saw as essential for their future careers. Others in the class were already using Excel and had seen features and capabilities they wanted to learn: sorting, filtering, conditional formatting, formulas.

The excitement in the room was palpable, and the team spirit — waiting sometimes or letting things speed ahead — made for a supportive and inclusive classroom. In 2 1/2 hours, we traveled from columns, rows, and cells to putting in a simple formula and automatically validating data. Walking the room was important: It supported those who could move forward quickly and made sure the newbies were practicing and understanding the basics. As Michelle gathered end-of-class surveys, we heard a student exclaim, “This was a great class!”

It’s thrilling for CTN to be a part of the continuous journey of increasing digital skills to accomplish goals and improve the quality of people’s lives. We hope other employers will follow THC’s leadership.

If you’re interested, please contact Laurie Sanchez at

Teaching Beyond the Basics

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Laurie Sanchez