Most of use the Internet every day – staying in touch with friends, reading about current events, menu planning, and most jobs now utilize the Internet. Imagine if you were unable to afford having an Internet connection and a computer at home? While Internet access is available at libraries, schools and other public institutions, today’s organization believes connectivity in the home is essential for families if they are to fully participate in our digital society, and they are making a difference in one community.
Michael Miimatta had been serving as a consultant to several non-profit organizations while his friend Rick Deane had a company that provided technical support to nonprofits. They both saw the need to close the Digital Divide between the nonprofit world and the corporate world. They gathered a few other providers of Information Technology services to nonprofit organizations to begin a joint venture in the spring of 2011. They began by planning a series of training events to teach nonprofit staff members about websites, online marketing, and social media to raise public awareness of their causes as well as utilize the Internet for fundraising.
Around that same time, Google announced that it had chosen Kansas City as the first city in the United States to build its ultrahigh speed one gigabit fiber network. Michael and Rick saw this as an opportunity to extend Internet connectivity to underserved kids and families who would be left out of this fiber revolution simply because they cannot afford to pay for fiber service, lack the computer equipment to connect, or the knowledge to become productive Internet users. A board of directors was formed and Connecting for Good was incorporated in Kansas in November 2011.
In October 2012, Connecting for Good received a jump start when a local mobile applications developer, One Louder Apps, won a national competition where the prize was to give $10,000 to the charity of their choice, and they selected Connecting for Good as the recipient. In December 2012, Connecting for Good installed their first free Wi-Fi network in a 168 unit low income housing complex in Kansas City, Kansas. This project brought Internet connectivity to nearly 400 residents as well as digital literacy training to fifty residents and several low cost laptops for residents.
The mission of Connecting for Good is to enable organizations and individuals to use technology to connect with one another in order to have a positive impact on society and the environment. They are bridging the Digital Divide through free in-home Internet connectivity, Wi-Fi mesh networks, refurbished computers, and digital life skills instruction for low income families.
Since December 2012, they have brought free broadband Internet to over 600 households in the Kansas City area, along with cheap PCs and digital literacy training to a 168 unit low income housing facility, to a 60 unit building for low income senior citizens and to a 390 unit public housing project. Their most recent project at Juniper Gardens was accomplished by installing over 70 Wi-Fi transmitters to create a hotspot that covers four city blocks. Their installation at Rosedale Ridge enabled over 400 devices to connect to the Internet including 21 school issued laptops. You can read more about this installation on their website.
Connecting for Good believes that Internet connectivity equals opportunity and the Internet is a necessity in order to fully participate as a productive citizen in a digital society. They also believe that education is the number one thing that lifts people out of poverty and it is nearly impossible to pursue a quality education without access to the Internet. Connecting for Good also believes that in-home Internet access should be viewed as an essential modern utility like phone service, electricity, and running water.
How can you help?
Connecting for Good has a variety of volunteer opportunities including:
- Mentoring of low income individuals who are beginning Internet users, teaching digital literacy classes, and working in their computer refurbishing shop. You can learn more about these opportunities and view their volunteer opportunity calendar on their website or by joining their Meetup group.
- Donating your used computers for their refurbishing program.
- Donating to their Crowdfunding campaign to purchase the remaining Wi-Fi antennas they need for their Juniper Gardens project. You can watch a news story about this project here.
- Donating to them via PayPal by clicking the Donate button on their homepage.