June 29, 2020
What is your organization’s mission, and how does it support Tennessee’s kids?
The Enterprise Center, a non-profit economic development partner to the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County region, unites people, organizations and technology to build an advanced and inclusive future for our community, with a focus on equity, collaboration, economic mobility, and Smart City innovation.
The Enterprise Center promotes digital inclusion by collaborating with community anchor institutions to connect people to STEM education opportunities, workforce, and other 21st century learning opportunities. Our signature program, Tech Goes Home Chattanooga, facilitates access to internet connectivity, hardware, and digital skills training.
Tech Goes Home Chattanooga partners with schools, public libraries, churches, nonprofits, and other organizations across Hamilton County to offer free courses designed to help residents develop skills and habits required for smart technology and Internet use. Participants receive fifteen hours of classroom training to help them understand why the Internet is relevant in their daily lives, have the option to purchase a new Chromebook or tablet for only $50 (upon completion of the course), and receive assistance in obtaining access to low-cost home Internet.
In regard to our support for Tennessee’s kids, Tech Goes Home Chattanooga hosts these digital skills classes for students and their parents all across Hamilton county. We’ve worked with over 40 different schools in our community to help both students and parents maximize their educational experience.
What desired impact does your organization have for its community? How does that impact influence your organization’s goals?
Since we reside in the infamous Gig City, having access to some of the world’s fastest internet, we must make sure that our entire community takes full advantage of that resource. Through providing subsidized devices, increasing access to affordable internet, and enhancing our community’s digital skillset, we hope to build long-term, equitable economic growth for Chattanooga and Hamilton county.
Since we began in 2015, we’ve had over 4,700 people complete our digital skills course, while distributing just over 3,000 devices (Chromebooks, PC laptops, and tablets). Our programs focus on people of all ages, and at various skill levels. Over the past three years we have focused on expanding our scope of work to partner with community organizations that can leverage our digital skills curriculum and access to devices in order to better serve their constituents – telehealth, offender reentry, accessibility, ESL, homelessness, etc.
We believe that in order for our community to succeed in this digital economy, we must ensure equitable access to internet and technology, and how to leverage both of these for yourself, your family, and your community.
How can those interested get involved in the work you’re doing?
The biggest challenge for our organization is capacity. We have double the requests than we can actually accommodate. As with any nonprofit organization, funding is always an issue.
Secondly, and this is more for us all, advocate for equitable access to high-speed broadband in your own community. Over the past several months, we’ve seen how essential it is for both students and adults to have access to internet and technology. Being connected is essential for full participation in today’s digital economy.
Sammy Loudermilk is the Tech Goes Home Program Manager for the Tech Goes Home program within the Enterprise Center. Learn more about the Enterprise Center here.