‘What We're Trying to Achieve is Digital Adoption’ in Portland, Ore.

with Juan Muro Jr. of Free Geek

Pairing digital literacy with refurbished or repurposed technology is a core component of Free Geek in Portland, Ore. Executive Director Juan Muro Jr. talks with Dara Brown on location in Philadelphia at Net Inclusion 2024 about Free Geek’s efforts to increase digital adoption.

Muro notes, “What we're trying to achieve is digital adoption, and that means that individuals can utilize the digital tools that they have now to be able to thrive in society.”

Posted on:

March 29, 2024

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Brown: Computer skills have become essential for success in many areas of life. However, the move towards a digital future can present several challenges. Hello. I'm Dara Brown. This is "Getting Connected" powered by "Comcast Newsmakers." We're on location at the Net Inclusion 2024 Conference in Philadelphia. Many low-income families lack the resources to purchase a computer or get the training required to use digital technology. Joining me to discuss a unique model that aims to bridge the digital divide through technology reuse is Juan Muro. He's the Executive Director of Free Geek. And, Juan, thank you so much for being here today.

Muro: Thank you for having me.

Brown: How did your organization come about? What was going on during that time?

Muro: Yeah, so Free Geek opened its doors to the public in Portland, Oregon on Earth Day the year 2000. And, so, we wanted to bring folks that were passionate about creating access to technology and help us refurbish and getting it back to community. So, now we are a digital equity organization that still provides devices, technology, education, digital literacy to help folks reach digital adoption.

Brown: So, how is your group working to bridge that digital divide? You have a unique model that addresses sustainability, digital access and digital literacy. Tell us how that works.

Muro: Yeah, we -- Great question. We believe that we can extend -- or provide communities with low and -- low-cost technology if we refurbish and repurpose technology that already exists. And, so, we pair that with digital literacy, technology education, classes, workshops, subscriptions to internet. And we partner with community-based organizations to be able to do this work. And, so, what we're trying to achieve is digital adoption. And that means that individuals can utilize the digital tools that they have now to be able to thrive in society.

Brown: What's next for your organization?

Muro: We have an expansion plan. So, we want to teach the rest of Oregon how to Free Geek. We also have a plan to extend -- to build coalition. We want to make sure that everybody can have access to the work we're doing across the state, so getting more stakeholders and community-based organizations to join this work. And the last would be focus on building talent. The people who deliver our services and our programs to community matter. And, so, they're the ones that have trust. And, so, as an organization, as we thrive, we want to make sure that we provide workforce development opportunities and career opportunities for people that we've hired from community to do this work.

Brown: Juan Muro from Free Geek, thank you so much for your time today.

Muro: 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.

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