Knight Foundation to help coordinate national broadband adoption effort

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oct. 12, 2011 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will play a key role in a new, national effort announced today to increase broadband adoption, expand digital literacy and make the Internet more relevant to people’s lives.

Connect to Compete, a new nonprofit announced by the FCC and comprised of philanthropic and business leaders, will help determine ways to break down barriers to broadband access by reducing service costs and providing digital literacy and training to prepare Americans for 21st century jobs.

Knight Foundation, one of the leading philanthropies involved, will help coordinate the partnership through a $150,000 planning grant to One Economy, which focuses on digital inclusion. Knight will also serve on the advisory council, helping to shape and guide the effort.

“Broadband access is critical in the digital age. But people also need to be able to use the Internet to improve their lives and take advantage of opportunities available to them,” Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives, said.  “Without both access and adoption, we are limiting the number of people who can fully engage in their community.”

One-third of all Americans – 100 million people – many of them rural, poor and unemployed, have not adopted broadband high-speed Internet at home, the Pew Research Center has found.

Connect to Compete is the first major action by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s Broadband Adoption Task force, announced in May to help close the adoption gap. Microsoft, Best Buy and other top companies will contribute to Connect to Compete by providing Internet skills and job training classes, Genachowski said.

Knight’s support continues the foundation’s commitment to promoting broadband access and adoption for all Americans. Since 2005, Knight has invested close to $18 million in its Universal Access Initiative, initially funding broadband infrastructure in Detroit, Miami, Akron and other communities, and now focusing on digital literacy training and adoption through libraries, universities and other community organizations.

In 2009, a blue-ribbon Knight Commission assessed the information needs of communities, determining that universal broadband access and digital literacy are key to ensuing healthy, democratic communities into the future.  Since then, Knight Foundation has partnered with the FCC to host a digital inclusion summit and to launch a contest for software applications (apps) that deliver personalized, actionable information to people least likely to be online.

”Having affordable access to the Internet and knowing how to use it is essential in today’s knowledge-based economy.  But to drive wide-scale adoption, it must be useful. That’s why this effort also focuses on developing relevant, practical ways to use the Internet for daily living. For example, a mom might use it to help her child with his homework, or her husband find a job,” said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives. “Once someone experiences the value of the Internet – to them – they’re hooked.”

About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

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Contact:

Marc Fest, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, fest@knightfoundation.org

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See related post on KnightBlog:

FCC, Knight and other philanthropic and business leaders launch national effort to ensure greater Internet adoption for more Americans

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.