OPEN REBOOT: OpenHub Project Engaging New tech users in Poughkeepsie, NY
New program began May 18th
In an increasingly digital world, many businesses now require employees to work remotely, and as schools and universities close their doors, learning has also moved online / hybrid. This is especially true after Covid-19, and it seems it will stay here from now on.
Digital skills and remote lifestyle became the new normal.
Technology has added a new digital dimension to inequality. This is not a binary divide: new levels of connectivity are leading to a range of different digital inclusions and exclusions. These often reflect, reproduce and amplify divides which exist between socio-economic classes, ethnicities, and genders, to name a few.
Digital technologies are advancing at an accelerated pace. Unless programs are consciously designed to address the specific needs of the most disadvantaged, then the use of digital technologies risks excluding and further isolating those already being left behind.
Open REBOOT pilot will address the following challenges to the Hudson Valley workforce:
- Lack of Access to Non-Traditional Educational Experiences: Many Poughkeepsie youth lack access to non-traditional educational experiences that focus on technology. As a result, Poughkeepsie youth have limited opportunities to participate in hands-on and mentor-driven programming that supports the development of the key understandings and technical skills critical to successfully engaging with today's job market.
- The presence of people of color in computer-related jobs remains starkly inadequate at the national level. Blacks make up 11.9 percent of all workers but only 7.9 percent of technology-related workers. The gap is even larger for Latinos, who make up 16.7 percent of all workers but only 6.8 percent of workers in IT-related fields.
- Digital Divide in Urban Communities: Digital Divide is defined as the gap between those who have access to broadband, electronic devices, and training, and those who do not are referred to as the digital divide.
- Digital Equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities would have the technology and capacity needed for full participation in society, democracy, and the economy.
- Poverty: City of Poughkeepsie population lives below the poverty line. The most recent data from the ALICE project, released in August 2020, shows that many households in the Hudson Valley are struggling to make ends meet. In the nine-county region of the Hudson Valley, 39% of households are below the ALICE threshold including 10% that are below the federal poverty line.
- Urban area are experiencing the most pressure: Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Middletown, Peekskill, Kingston
Through this project our organization will be addressing critical components of the digital divide such as:
- Ownership and thus access to internet enabled devices
- Mentor based instructive representative of the community served
- Access to hands on computer based learning and skills training
- Access to structured software skill development programming designed to support job readiness and acquisition skills such as resume building, scheduling, and digital collaboration
OPEN REBOOT: OpenHub Pilot project Engaging New tech users in Poughkeepsie, NY (O.P.E.N. Reboot) has been designed as a pilot program that will focus on directly providing solutions to problems Poughkeepsie youth are facing related to:
- Lack of Access to Non-Traditional Educational Experiences in technology and digital space
- Digital Divide in Urban Communities like Poughkeepsie
OPEN Reboot allows not only a fast bootup sequence but also a startup to a full-service computer environment to ensure everything is working properly.
The OPEN Reboot will engage five-six Poughkeepsie youth (ages 16-24) with dynamic hands-on learning experiences related to computers and digital space. A resident of the City of Poughkeepsie who is an information technology professional will serve as a class instructor.
Through collaboration with other community partners, 10 computers and a worksite to facilitate class have already been committed as donations in-kind in support of this project. Collaborative partners for this project include:
- OpenHub - Program initiator, designer and implementer
- Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board - Facilities (Instructional space & storage of class resources)
- One Stop Dutchess County - Participant recruitment, youth engagement and evaluation
- Workforce Development Institute - funding and overall support
- Dutchess County government - donated 10 computers to refurbish
Participating youth will meet with the mentors for two hours twice a week for five weeks. They will also receive an hourly stipend to support their full engagement with the program and eliminate any potential barriers such as lack of transportation.
The mentor will lead class lessons which will begin by focusing on fostering hands-on learning experiences related to computer hardware.
The program consists of two separate yet complimenting concentrations:
- LOAN 2 OWN. During the first concentration of the program, students will be provided a computer which they will repair and enhance under the guidance of the mentor. The participants will then become owners of the newly repaired computer. The new computer will serve as the key foundational tool that the participants will use to engage in the second stage of the program which focuses on critical software skill development.
- The second concentration of the program is designed to support job readiness, build real life computer repair skills and provide exposure to digital skills such as resume building, scheduling, and digital collaboration. During this phase, students will develop a working knowledge of G-Suite which is the new job related standard de facto in the remote world. As a result, they will implement a custom set up on their computers which will support them easily accessing Gmail, Google Drive, GoogleDocs, and Google Sites as well as Google Calendar, Meet and Contacts. This will coincide with lessons and mini-projects designed to deliver an understanding of the practical use and application of these tools to advance their personal development including their pursuit of careers in technology. For example, the participants will learn how these tools can help them develop a resume or design a flyer for a special event, as well as how to plan and schedule using Google calendar.