Last week, the City of Boston, the State of Illinois and MyWay Village announced that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant funding for programs that will use high-speed internet broadband access to provide training in how using the Internet can improve the lives of seniors. Portions of the grant will go to a project under the direction of MyWay Village’s Connected Living program to work with seniors for training programs for Internet usage to improve communications with friends and families and get access to better access to valuable information, education and health services.
"Low income seniors and affordable housing communities deserve equal access to technologies that can deliver better health and economic opportunity," said Sarah Hoit, CEO and Co-Founder of MyWay Village. "Over the last three years, we have connected thousands of seniors with our "’high-tech and high-touch’ approach which has proven to be a winning combination."
The Boston award will go to an established senior housing based broadband life-relevance program. Connected Living will work for the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) directly in three BHA senior communities to achieve high rates of broadband adoption and will be sustained by person-to-person instruction that is centered on senior’s interests. The program will strengthen each senior’s connections with family, friends and service providers and will enhance their independence, socialization and cognitive abilities and provide computers for seniors to use in their apartments.
"This grant is a big deal for Boston," said U.S. Senator John Kerry. "It will benefit workers hunting for jobs, students, and seniors who might not otherwise have broadband access. I was proud to fight for this funding knowing what a difference it can make."
The Illinois project will will offer Connected Living programs to residents in 23 rural, suburban and inner-city dwellings and their surrounding communities. Trainees who pass a basic computer proficiency test after initial training will earn a voucher for a highly discounted computer and Internet service. The programs will collect adoption data, evaluate best practices and disseminate learning to affordable housing managers through a series of conferences and online tools.
"Senior citizens and people with disabilities need adequate, affordable access to the tools of the 21st century," said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. "This project represents a powerful way to close the digital divide by increasing computer training and high-speed Internet availability in Illinois."