One Economy Digital Communities: San Jose and Miami

GRANT DESCRIPTION

To expand home access to computers, provide technical assistance and training, and develop local web content to help low-income individuals in Miami and San Jose gain access to services and opportunities.


ASSESSMENT PURPOSE AND APPROACH

Key Questions

  • How effective has the program been in its efforts to provide families with home access to useful and relevant Internet content?
  • Has that content assisted users in seeking work, accessing financial services, obtaining health care, advancing education and improving their standard of living?
  • Has Internet access at home helped families become informed, active citizens and consumers so they feel more connected and civically engaged?

Approach: This report details a study commissioned by Knight Foundation to evaluate Internet usage among low-income Americans participating in the Knight Foundation-funded One Economy Digital Communities program. To answer research questions, the authors collected broad data from all Digital Communities staffers and gathered information in a focused manner from individuals and families. The surveying effort included measures administered early and late in families’ participation in the program that captured changes in attitudes and behaviors over time and compared the results of these measures with similar measures from a national study, conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, of low-income individuals who are not specifically part of the Digital Communities. From this examination, One Economy can assess the program effects in ways that will contribute to its further efforts to improve the lives of low-income individuals and communities through strategic use of technology.

Report Partner: SRI International

REPORT FINDINGS

  • High Rates of Internet Use – 86 percent of San Jose clients and 82 percent of Miami clients use the Internet or email. One Economy is reaching its primary goal of making a difference in access for those least able to afford it.
  • Relevance and Impact – Nearly all the people surveyed received direct, tangible benefits from having a computer with Internet access. Many reported a broad range of uses, including email, news, music, applying for jobs and school, banking, shopping.
  • Broad Range of Internet Uses Reported – Email, news, music, applying for jobs and school, banking, shopping.
  • Community Engagement – 77 percent and 41 percent of Miami and San Jose clients, respectively, report that the Internet has helped them feel more included in their community. The Beehive Website offered by the program has been instrumental in this development.
  • Room for Improvement – For greatest impact, the report recommends developing a strategy for facilitating networking between clients and other local digital learning opportunities within the community and paying closer attention to clients’ computer use, problems and needs might also result in improved trouble-shooting.