In Allegheny County, nearly one in five households lack internet access at home, and 10% of Pittsburgh households don’t own a computer.
Where can a low-income resident go if they’re in need of tech or an internet connection, and who’s ensuring that connection works?
In honor of Technical.ly’s Broadband Connectivity Month, here are a few local organizations and initiatives offering digital literacy classes, internet hookups, advocacy and more.
As ChatGPT told us earlier this month, the Carnegie Library system’s branches offer visitors free Wi-Fi access. In addition to that and loaning patrons books, some CLP branches also loan laptops to patrons over the age of 13 that can be used inside the library.
Community Forge is a business service hubs and community center based in Wilkinsburg. Its BootUP PGH program connects program participants to tech such as iPads, audio recording equipment, PCs and gaming consoles.
Community Internet Solutions, the organization formerly known as Meta Mesh Wireless Communities, has been working to take the internet directly to the people who need it most through its Every1online. This initiative provides the necessary receiver, router and other tech and connects residents to a private Wi-Fi network, free of charge.
Computer Reach is a national organization with a Pittsburgh presence. It provides lower-income individuals with refurbished computer devices, tech support, training and internet access.
The Greater Pittsburgh Digital Inclusion Alliance is network of regional organizations working together to serve residents in need of digital literacy skills, economic opportunities, and affordable internet connection. Members of this coalition include the likes of Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, Literacy Pittsburgh and Partner4Work, as well as other orgs on this list.
PGH Beyond the Laptops is a Neighborhood Alliance-led program that partners with nonprofits, universities, and government entities to bring Pittsburgh residents technology, affordable internet service, and digital literacy education.
The Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition is a citywide collaboration between universities, nonprofits, and elected officials to close the digital divide between Pittsburgh residents with technology and internet access and those without it. Back in September 2022, when the group launched, its stated first goal was to develop a five-year roadmap by Q2 2023; look for an update on that work soon.
The STEM Coding Lab is a nonprofit offering after-school and summer programming geared at bringing STEM education directly to elementary and middle school-aged students. Through its Wi-Fi on Wheels (WOW) CyberBus, the program travels to students’ homes to offer them Wi-Fi, plus use of the laptops and tablets on the bus.
The United Way is a human service referral organization that connects individuals in need with nonprofits offering digital literacy classes and free or low-cost devices.
This FCC-backed federal benefits program provides a $30 subsidy for internet service to eligible families. Take a look at how digital equity orgs in Philadelphia are spreading the word about the ACP as a new school year begins.
Did we miss any? Email email@example.com to share who else is working on digital equity in Pittsburgh.Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
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