Since 1897, Neighborhood House has been serving people from all over the world who have relocated to Minnesota to build a better life for themselves and their families. Neighborhood House provides the tools needed to not only survive but to thrive in their new environment and break the cycle of poverty.
One of the goals of Neighborhood House is to create digital equity for immigrants and refugees. Many of the people Neighborhood House serves have never used a computer and are uncomfortable around technology. Daily living – things like looking up the bus schedule, applying for jobs, paying bills, and keeping in touch with family is more difficult without access to a computer and the skills necessary to use it effectively.
To help Neighborhood House participants succeed in the increasingly technological world they live in, the organization works hard to integrate technology into its programming and teach digital literacy skills. However, due to economic barriers, participants weren’t able to put their new skills to use because they didn’t have access to a computer at home.
Kara Schommer, director of programs at Neighborhood House, reached out to us to put together a program that would give participants an opportunity to earn their own laptops. One of the requirements to earn a laptop is to attend at least two digital literacy classes to ensure they are able to use the computer when they receive it.
“The impact of having a computer that they’re trained to use is huge as it changes our participant’s lives by allowing them to be fully engaged in their communities. Having the access and skills to use a computer allows participants to apply for jobs, communicate with family, get information about their countries and communities and get into their children’s school portals. It helps them be more engaged in their civic role.” – Kara Schommer, Neighborhood House.