By Andrea Guzman, Coordinator, Ready Set Connect Program
What can you do with the Internet?
As witnessed in business trends, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and the Bay for the past couple of decades: A LOT. From gaming to job searching, online dating, apps, virtual classrooms and so much more, the use of the Internet through computers and personal devices has become a prevalent and necessary component of daily life in the Bay Area.
In Oakland, however, there are numerous families without access to a computer, the Internet, and other essential tools many of us take for granted. Just like the ability to read, using and understanding how to use digital tools can greatly impact the accessibility of crucial services and opportunities!
Luckily, the Oakland Public Library continues to serve as a valuable resource to community members from all walks of life, many of whom access its free WI-FI, computers and tech resources to achieve financial security and stability.
In 2013, OPL and a San Francisco-based nonprofit, Community Technology Network, established the Ready, Set, Connect! (RSC!) program, which focuses on bridging the digital divide while investing in and developing the professional capacity of local young people. Participants in the RSC! program are enrolled as Digital Literacy Trainers in a local library branch, and over a period of eight months work on developing their public speaking and soft skills, take field trips to local tech companies and receive valuable career advice from professionals in the tech industry. Library patrons benefit from one-on-one sessions the trainers provide, as one patron from the Cesar E.Chavez Branch describes:
“The [Digital Literacy Trainers] are important because no one in my family is willing to put their time out to teach me the basics of using tech, and if I ask, they often get irritated. The interns are always patient and explain everything step by step.”
The Ready, Set, Connect! program -- now in its fourth year -- provides a platform where young people can share their technology skills with thousands of community members across Oakland, connecting them to tools they use to communicate with loved ones abroad and facilitate their efforts in self-sustenance, independence, and upward mobility.
Visit us to find out more about the Ready, Set, Connect! program: http://oaklandlibrary.org/teens/events-programs/ready-set-connect
The National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, September 21-26, is sponsored by the National Coalition for Literacy. @NLCAdvocacy