Today's Digital Divide movement remains focused, for the most part, on closing the gap in access to technology. The realand far more powerfulchallenge of the movement is applying technology to bridge fundamental social divides and help people in low-income communities improve their lives. The movement must raise its vision from access to technology to application of technology to achieve meaningful outcomes.
The challenge is to turn one of the farthest reaching and fastest growing civic movements of our time into a true social force to reach beyond the issues of access and cut to the heart of social divides themselves.
The Morino Institute has been working to understand the challenges involved in thoughtfully integrating Internet and related information technologies into lives of people in low-income communities. Our eight years of practical experience go beyond the role of a funder and observer. The Institute has worked directly with community-based organizations such as LEAP in New Haven, CT, and national programs such as Stand For Children.
In 1998, the Institute launched the Youth Development Collaborative (YDC) Pilot, a two-year effort to help youth organizations integrate the Internet into their out-of-school learning programs. The YDC Pilot, which concluded in September 2000, focused on developing people, organizational capacity and know-how, not on providing hardware, software or wiring.
The practical insights gained from and accomplishments of the YDC Pilot are available through
the Youthlearn online learning community,
bi-weekly electronic newsletter, and
The YouthLearn Guide, an extensive how-to manual and
website. In December 2001, The Morino Institute entered into a strategic partnership with the Education Development Center
(EDC), one of the nation's leading nonprofit education organizations. EDC now directs and has
begun to expand YouthLearn's offerings under the leadership of EDC Vice President Vivian Guilfoy and
YouthLearn Director Tony Streit, with the long-term intention of establishing a national center of excellence focused on children, learning, and technology.
Our July 2001 report, From Access to Outcomes: Raising the Aspirations for Technology Initiatives in Low-Income Communities, which has been refined with the help of dozens of top thought leaders in the fields of learning and technology, represents an ambitious effort to channel, redirect, and augment the energies that are being devoted to closing the digital divide. From Access to Outcomes offers a host of insights and case studies to illustrate how a new focus on outcomes - along with smart, large-scale investments to help achieve them - could help turn the country's disparate digital divide efforts into a powerful movement capable of producing widespread social change.