(Photo via twitter.com/PhillyKEYSPOTS)
Generocity is one of 22 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push toward economic justice.
Editor’s note: This is an abridged version of the article by Grace Shallow that originally appeared at Technical.ly Philly.
What’s the overlap between the rise in digital non-connectedness in Philly and joblessness?
It’s an important consideration for Philadelphia, especially, which has the second-lowest rate of broadband access of the nation’s 25 largest cities at 71.6%, according to a 2018 Philadelphia Inquirer analysis of census data. It was also the only large city to record a decrease in internet access between 2016 and 2017.
Per Sassaman’s colleague Devren Washington, lack of digital literacy impacts a person’s unemployment from the very beginning of their job search in the city.
“People who struggle with digital literacy are less likely to own a computer or know how to use it as a tool in their job search,” he wrote in an email to Technical.ly. “This puts them at a disadvantage in comparison to other candidates. If they manage to navigate sites like Indeed or Monster, which requires a certain level of digital competency, application sorting algorithms reduce the chances of their application being seen.”
And the disadvantages go on. These candidates are less likely to even find jobs to apply for and will submit fewer applications than others, Washington added.
But there are resources available to help increase people’s broadband access and power their job hunts in Philadelphia. Here’s a list of a few:
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The KEYSPOTS program has offered people unrestricted access to the internet on computers across the city since 2010. There are more than 50 locations in public, private and nonprofit organizations, including rec centers and Free Library of Philadelphia branches.
Between 2011 and 2016, these locations were visited more than 672,310 times for job searches and education, according to KEYSPOT’s 2016-2019 strategic plan.
This nonprofit is known for its outreach to people with HIV and those who are high risk. In addition to community health centers, it has a Critical Path Learning Center that offers adult education classes on topics like digital literacy and employment. This center houses one of the city’s KEYSPOT labs with Wi-Fi access, desktop computers, laptops, iPads and charging stations, said Juliet Fink Yates, the chief education officer at FIGHT.
In 2018, DLA awarded these immigration-focused nonprofits a joint grant of $10,000 for their digital literacy program, including an open computer lab, for immigrants learning to speak English and searching for jobs.
Every third Wednesday of the month, this nonprofit holds an information session at 1340 Frankford Ave, about its free individual or small group tutoring sessions, according to its website. Volunteer tutors will help participants with GED preparation, digital literacy skills and career development.
This 40-year-old program at Temple University offers low-cost courses catering to the North Philadelphia community, but available to anyone in the city. It has three technology-centered, 10-week courses in the fall and spring semesters, none of which costs more than $40.
PASCEP is also a KEYSPOT location and has free internet access Monday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m.
This community services hub at Drexel University has a series of technology classes and open computer lab hours.
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