From Access to Outcomes: Raising the Aspirations for
Technology Initiatives in Low-Income Communities represents an
ambitious effort to channel, redirect, and augment the energies that are
being devoted to closing the digital divide.
From Access to Outcomes makes the case that
technology must not be seen as an end in itself. Although most initiatives
aimed at closing the digital divide have focused on expanding access to
new technologies, the report concludes that providing access alone is
rarely as effective as it is well-meaning. The report finds that
initiatives in and by low-income communities are far better at producing
meaningful change when people apply technology with tangible economic,
educational, and social end results – or "outcomes" – in
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.
- The lessons corporate America has learned about
integrating information technology into its operations and strategies
can be helpful to nonprofit organizations struggling to do the same.
In the corporate sector, fundamental change required far more than
plunking down a computer in front of every employee. The magic
occurred when individuals came to understand the potential of
technology, acquired the skills to use it, and were wired together.
- No matter how impressive the technology or how
well-intended the motives, technology initiatives imposed on a
community by outsiders are often ineffective. As a result, those who
hope to promote the use of technology in low-income communities should
devote a great deal of time to identifying and then cultivating
relationships with key local leaders and organizations.
- Investments in technology must go far beyond funding
for hardware, software, and wires. For most projects, no more than
one-third of the funding should go to technology itself, leaving more
than two-thirds for developing programs that help people and
organizations understand and apply the technology.
- People who are committed to narrowing social divides
should not underestimate how much time and energy are required to
build the case for the relevance of technology within low-income
communities. Most people in low-income communities see little reason
to embrace technology. Worse still, many fear or distrust it.
- To achieve meaningful national outcomes rather than
just a set of small, isolated victories, federal and state governments
should do more to provide frameworks and incentives to help focus
philanthropic resources and stimulate private-sector investment in
- New philanthropic models, including social venture
funds and social investment funds, could help to expand dramatically
the investments in technology-related initiatives.
- To spark widespread change in low-income communities
through the targeted use of technology, it will take well over $10
billion a year in additional technology-related investments. As steep
as this price tag may seem, the cost of inaction almost certainly
would be larger than the cost of action.
From Access to Outcomes was produced by the Morino Institute, a nonprofit that works
to strengthen organizations serving the children of low-income
communities. The report’s premises were refined with the help of dozens of top
thought leaders in the fields of learning and technology who
participated in an online discussion forum
hosted by the Morino Institute from November 2000 to April 2001.