Dee Albritton, Director Fast Forward
2600 Wheat Street, Columbia, SC 29205
Mike Gray, Vice President Community Initiatives United Way of the Midlands
1800 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Community Technology Center
What is a CTC? Do you want one? How can you start one? Where can you find resources? How do CTCs work in the at-risk and in need population? Answers to these questions and resources will be discussed by a partner, the director and three volunteers from Fast Forward.
Fast Forward is a community technology center, at Hand Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina. Broad social and economic changes from the development of new information technologies have coincided with the growing gap in achievement between low and middle-income students in the past decade and a widening opportunity gap in the workforce. There has been a growing movement to establish community technology centers, community-based initiatives that work to enhance learning opportunities for low-income Americans through the use of computers and other technological tools, to respond to these gaps.
CTCs are being used internationally to provide those who have no access to technology and more specifically to the internet with access through Cybercafes and technology centers. By providing this access, people from all cultures can connect throughout the world to bring positive change to their communities.
This Information Presentation will cover the role of CTCs, and will use Fast Forward as an example of a CTC that is working and expanding into new sites.
The most important part of developing a CTC is knowing your community, its needs, its assets, and its ability to sustain and maintain centers. Zoe Baird of the Markle Foundation said, “Access to technology is no gift, especially to low-income families, unless it meets their needs.” The NTIA found that while computer ownership has increased across every demographic since 1994, the digital divide has “widened significantly”.
The intended audience for this presentation is those interested in using technology as a way to change neighborhoods. Grassroots activists, people interested in different uses of technology, and those interested in evaluating the possibility of using a technology center to change their community.
The presentation will be structured as follows:
The structured part of the presentation will be limited to allow the majority of the time to be used for open discussion, question and answers to best provide participants with the information they need. Handouts including websites, business plans, etc will be available.
The lead presenter has over twenty years experience in technology training and consulting and nine years of working in a crisis ministry providing emergency and long-term programs for people at-risk and in need. Merging these two seemingly diverse backgrounds to improve the lives of people through providing access to technology and technology education to those people is the true goal of the community technology center.
The second presenter has spent over twenty years in the social service arena either in direct service or in management. Using these tools he has worked to create partnerships in Columbia that bridge all nonprofits, businesses and faith-based groups to work together to better the community.
The volunteers who will present are part of an active leadership program that includes diverse youth working together to support a program that changes the lives of their neighbors, their friends, and their families.