Mobile Citizen’s Commitment to Closing the Digital Divide

Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Community Investment, Great Companies, Work | Comments Off on Mobile Citizen’s Commitment to Closing the Digital Divide

Mobile Citizen’s Commitment to Closing the Digital Divide

Mobile Citizen provides low-cost wireless Internet access to help nonprofits better serve their communities. Since its inception in 2009, Mobile Citizen was successful in doing just that, one nonprofit at a time. However over time, Mobile Citizen joined the rest of the country in the realization that more than one-third of Americans still did not have broadband access at home. The National Broadband Plan discovered the reason for this gap was threefold: availability, adoption and utilization, and called for a solution in one of its outcome goals: “Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.” More needed to be done.

Many organizations stepped up to solve the skills challenge by supplying equipment and/or training programs, yet without affordable access to a reliable connection, even the best digital inclusion programs fell short.

After a successful pilot program with OneCommunity, an Ohio-based nonprofit organization, Mobile Citizen reached out to KC ROBERG for help in developing and promoting a Partner Program for Digital Inclusion offering a low-cost Internet option to other nonprofits sharing their mission to close the digital divide. This innovative partnership model extended Mobile Citizen’s community reach while enabling partners to become some of the most successful digital literacy program providers in the country.

Yes, Mobile Citizen saw income grow rapidly as a result of this program, but more importantly, their partners and the people they serve, saw results having affordable Internet access enabled. Together they reached the most people in need.   Here are some of the stories from program benefactors:

Tool for Learning

Schools today build curriculum expecting a degree of distance or at home learning, yet a surprisingly large percentage of people still cannot afford Internet at home. One user working with a Mobile Citizen partner in Philadelphia expressed how this program allowed her to fulfill a life’s goal of attending community college where there was a laptop/Internet requirement.

Improve Job Prospects

The majority of today’s jobs are posted exclusively online creating a scenario of haves and have nots. Jobseekers with accessible Internet service consistently report on results such as receiving new or better jobs, receiving a promotion, entering a work training program or starting their own business. One program recipient, also a single parent, returned to Mobile Citizen’s Minneapolis partner six months after receiving his very first computer bundled with mobile Internet wishing to share how it had changed his life. This gentleman explained how having a computer with Internet access helped him apply for 12 jobs in one week, resulting in him quickly finding a job that allowed him to support his family. Previously, applying for jobs meant going to the library where there were not enough connected computers and computer/Internet time was restricted. The process was slow, cumbersome and for him, not effective.

Other Life-Changing Benefits

With affordable Internet access and computer training, Mobile Citizen partners reported on users finding other creative ways to use technology to save money and live better.

  • Accessing critical healthcare information and resources for aging users.
  • Using Skype via the Internet to call family living out of state or the country, saving money on long distance.
  • Banking online and saving money on bus fare.

Mobile Citizen is an incredible success story relative to corporate social responsibility. When everything you do ties back to your mission and to your brand, the business follows.

PHOTO CREDIT: Janet Century for OneCommunity

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