Mission to ‘Give People Hope’ and Digital Skills in Massachusetts

with Marvin Venay of Tech Goes Home

Marvin Venay, Chief Advocacy Officer of Tech Goes Home in Boston, joins Dara Brown on location at Net Inclusion 2024 in Philadelphia to discuss their work to close the digital divide in Massachusetts. “I think we really find great chances to give people hope, allow them to have their dignity, but most of all, allow them to grow in this digital world,” Venay says.

Posted on:

March 15, 2024

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Brown: You can find barriers to broadband adoption even in urban areas where internet is readily available. Some groups are stepping up to fill in the gaps in digital education. Hello, I'm Dara Brown, and this is "Getting Connected," powered by "Comcast Newsmakers." We're on location at the Net Inclusion 2024 Conference in Philadelphia. Joining me is Marvin Venay, the Chief Advocacy Officer of Tech Goes Home. Marvin, thanks so much for being here.

Venay: Thank you for having me.

Brown: Marvin, how does your organization reach out into the community to address digital education?

Venay: We are very big on meeting people where they are, so we partner with organizations like libraries, nonprofits, other community-based organizations, in an effort to really identify where the gaps lie. And then what we do is we train their staff on how to develop a curriculum that is applicable and unique to those they're serving. So courses are designed specifically for a group. It is not an open-ended market, or we just, you know, kind of give templates, we actually identify where those needs are and fill those needs as such.

Brown: Can you expand on those programs that you have?

Venay: Sure, we do a small business running. We also do seniors. We do youth. We also do early education, as well. We're reaching anywhere from ages 3 to 97. I'd like to share that our oldest is a 97-year-old former Tuskegee Airman. And so he was very excited to take the course. And when he took the course, he learned how to navigate that process and enjoy his family, telehealth, and other areas in which he'd not had a real interest in doing so out of fear and discomfort. But after taking one of our courses, he became much more confident.

Brown: And what are the biggest barriers that you're facing with your digital navigators?

Venay: The biggest barriers that we're facing is that there are people who are still uncomfortable with the usage of a Chromebookor an iPad or tools of that nature. The biggest fears are that -- there are people who are looking for how do they integrate into this system or this world, the digital world, without actually having those skills, and feeling uncomfortable being amongst their peers, you know, being taught, and so they're always questioning. But what we've done that I think is very well is that by partnering with organizations who already have trust built, already have that trust developed, it allows for the conversations to go easier. It allows for the training to be done in a way in which people feel as if they are part of the equation and not only outside of it. And I think that we really find great chances to give people hope, allow them to have their dignity, but most of all, allow them to grow in this digital world.

Brown: And have you seen the impact on your community?

Venay: Absolutely. Absolutely. We see it tremendously. We are in -- the City of Boston is where we began. We are now in Western Mass, we are in Central Mass, and we're moving to the South Shore. We have some parts in an area called Essex County. We are growing because there is a need, and so we're finding ourselves being asked to come into certain communities that are looking at these gaps and wondering what can we do. And we're just fortunate to be able to fill those promises and meet those demands.

Brown: Marvin Venay, thank you so much for your time today.

Venay: Thank you for having me.

Brown: And thanks to you, as well, for watching. For more conversations about digital equity and broadband expansion, visit gettingconnected.com. I'm Dara Brown. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

Loading Loading...