RS1: Kansas City

He’s working to close the digital divide in Kansas City

The 2011 announcement by Google to bring “ultra high-speed broadband to communities” (para. 4) around Kansas City brought excitement to many in the area. However, Rick Deane, a man who had been working for two centuries to close the local digital divide, was flooded with concern. Deane was worried that some people would not be able to afford the new coming technology and as a result, the digital divide gap was going to widen. With this increasing concern came the emergence of Connecting for Good (CFG) – a nonprofit centralized in Kansas City with branches in Missouri and Kansas. CFG’s mission was to ensure that low-income people and others throughout the Kansas City area had access to the opportunities offered by the internet and computers. Deane, who now serves as CFG’s chief technology officer, said that “We want to make people digital citizens.” (para. 9).

After a month, CFG installed its first free Wi-Fi network in a low-income apartment complex, bringing the internet to nearly 400 people. However, Deane soon came to the realization that internet connection useless without a computer attached to it and knowledge to use it. So CFG worked hard to refurbish and sell computers to low-income residents. They were able to sell computers for as low as $50. The organization also offered free courses that covered everything “from basic computer and email skills to advanced virus resolution techniques” (para. 13). Deane was even more proud of the work CFG was accomplishing after finding out the hassle some people went through because they lacked easy accessibility to the internet. He learned that some families spent up to 6 hours on public transportation trips to buy groceries, a task that could be completed online. And others waited hours just to spend a mere 45 minutes on a computer. This information fueled Deane’s passion to shrink the digital divide even more. CFG will continue to work hard in Kansas City and surrounding areas to ensure easy internet access to all people despite economic levels.

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