A UN Study showed that IT progress is a more important factor for increased life expectancy than higher incomes or higher education.
– United Nations Development Programme (2001)
What is the Digital Divide?
Broadly speaking, the term “digital divide” refers to disparities in access to and facility with information technology (IT) based on demographic factors, such as race, ethnicity, income, education level, and gender.
A 2015 Pew Research Center study* showed that while 84% of American adults now use the Internet, the majority of them are white, middle or upper class, under the age of 65, educated and living in non-rural areas. According to the study, only 78% of African Americans, 81% of Hispanics, 78% of rural Americans and 58% of seniors are currently online.
In the greater Binghamton area, populations with limited access to IT include senior citizens, the formerly homeless or incarcerated, immigrants & refugees, youth with limited financial means, and unemployed or under-employed adults, among others. The Bridging the Digital Divide Project’s goal is to help these populations acquire both the equipment and skills necessary to effectively use information technology.
With our local community needs in mind, SUNY Broome, Binghamton University’s Center for Civic Engagement, AmeriCorps, New York CampusCompact and Geodis launched the Bridging the Digital Divide Project (BDDP) in 2010. BDDP is a collaborative effort with nearly twenty community partners with the common goal of increasing access to and training in information technology for local populations.
Each semester, the Bridging the Digital Divide Project (BDDP) recruits student volunteers to provide basic computer literacy instruction to community members. Instructors are partnered with 1-2 other students, and teach at off-campus locations each week. Instructors do not need an extensive background in computer literacy. We are looking for passionate individuals who are looking to help others and are comfortable teaching their own class!
Under the direction of community volunteer leader, Jack Rappaport, student volunteers refurbish used computers, which are then loaned out to community members through partner organizations. To ensure that recipients are able to use the computers effectively, computers are loaned to those who have completed a computer literacy class.
BDDP supports electronic and electric waste collection initiatives in the community. These collections reduce the volume of equipment that finds its way into the county landfill by collecting, reusing, and recycling items such as cell phones, MP3 players, I/T equipment, cameras, GPS units, clock radios, TVs, monitors, displays, digital photo frames, calculators, and computers.By keeping tens of thousands of pounds of equipment out of the landfill, our efforts reduce levels of harmful metals and other components in the waste stream.