Welcome Open Air Boston and Tech Goes Home to Opportunity Nation’s Coalition•
OpenAirBoston’s mission is to ensure that Boston residents have the tools, training and access to 21st century skills development and technology. Through the Tech Goes Home program, the organization seeks to provide opportunities for all city residents to connect to schools, community programs, government agencies and join the online community.
Deb Socia is executive director of Tech Goes Home. She has been recognized as the Community Broadband Hero of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunication’s Officers and Advisors for her work to expand high-speed Internet to low-income Bostonians.
As a long-term educator in the public schools, Deb became aware of the growing necessity of affordable Internet access and computer literacy, particularly for families with children.
Access to high-speed Internet, once considered to be a luxury, has become essential to modern life.
- Increasingly, Americans need computers and Internet access to apply for jobs. Eighty percent of Fortune 500 companies only accept applications online.
- Parents can check their child’s grades on line, and communicate with teachers via email.
- Low-income families can apply for food assistance, health care and city services online.
- Online banking can save low-income families time and money, by freeing them from the high fees of some cash-checking stores and allowing checks to be deposited directly into their account each month.
“You are disadvantaged without access to this technology,” Deb said. “We want to show people how technology can change their lives for the better.”
Tech Goes Home has been hugely successful in the past three years, giving low-cost Internet access, computer training and netbooks to 10,000 people.
Comcast offers reduced rates for Internet service to families with children in the public schools who are eligible for free and reduced lunch. The tech company Freedom Pop also offers a wireless 4G option with 1 GB of free data that is available to low-income city residents.
Deb praised Boston’s outgoing Mayor Menino for his support and leadership providing free outdoor WiFi in several of the city’s neighborhoods, including low-income areas.
According to Deb, 90 percent of the residents served by the program remain online a year after their participation, even though these families earn $25,000 a year or less.