Charter and One Economy Bridge the Digital Divide
by Beth Stampone
Charter Communications, One Economy, and local partners announced a pilot program at a press conference held at Renaissance Place (1001 North Compton) on April 19. The conference included various dignitaries and supporters of this initiative to bridge the digital divide. This pilot program will provide 1000 St. Louis metro area households with free High-Speed Internet service for two years. Through the power of technology, this program’s main objective is to improve the lives of the low income areas of St. Louis.
St. Louis is the first community to launch free digital services of this kind. Ted Schremp, Vice President of Charter, stated that the current national adoption rate of broadband internet is 6 5%. The pilot program intends to raise the adoption rate by providing 1000 households, particularly in low-income areas of the St. Louis region, with free internet access, which amounts to about $700,000 in the two year span. One Economy, a global nonprofit organization, will provide computer training assistance, technical support, and access to affordable computer equipment. The program will be up and running within the next few months, according to Ted Schremp.
The households that will participate in this program will be identified by local partner agencies, urban housing developer McCormack Baron Salazar/McCormack Baron Ragan, Urban Strategies, and Habitat for Humanity. These agencies specialize in rebuilding human and physical infrastructure in redeveloping communities and decent affordable houses for those who lack adequate shelter. Once the households have been selected, the program will relieve financial barriers and raise digital literacy.
Ultimately, this program will allow these households to be active and educated participants in today’s broadband-centric society. Charter, One Economy, and the local agencies, have partnered together to deliver social and human revitalization for the community with information technology. The St. Louis region has the opportunity to utilize the pilot program to achieve its digital potential.
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