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Addressing digital equity on the Southside

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jun 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-27 18:58:29-04

One neighborhood in Tallahassee's Southside is working to ensure everyone has internet access at home.

"Just as technology changes, our approach to ensuring equity to it will change as well," said Christic Henry.

Some people in the area cannot afford to have internet at home and the Covid-19 Pandemic brought the issue to light. Now, a new technology and learning center in the Greater Apalachee Ridge Estates neighborhood is working to change that.

Carol Tucker has lived in the Greater Apalachee Ridge Estates neighborhood for 15 years.

"It's a clean, quiet neighborhood. I like my neighbors. Everybody's friendly. Hello!"

She enjoys sitting outside with her next-door neighbor Mildred.

"We get the cardinals and blue jays and morning doves," said Tucker.

Tucker is one of the few people in the neighborhood that has internet access at home. President of the Neighborhood Association Christic Henry said most households live below the average median income and can't afford internet.

"They need the internet but it's seen as the last rung of something in view of other things that have to be taken care of," said Henry.

Even if they have internet access, many people like Tucker don't exactly know how to use it.

"I wish I was more tech savvy so I'd like to have something where it could help me become a lot more tech savvy and learn how to really use the internet better," said Tucker.

Now, a new technology and learning center is opening just down the street to help.
A $75,000 grant will start up a digital navigator program which will help bring internet access to people's homes on the Southside, or they can come here and take classes on financial literacy and learn digital skills.

Henry believes this resource hub will help meet people's digital needs.

"It's a meaningful step in making sure that we are creating space for everyone to be able to be online, be able to afford to be online, and to be able to profit from online access," said Henry.

It'll also improve their overall way of life by teaching them skills that allows them to access new job opportunities using technology.

"Not just education but just advocacy for future opportunities for residents within the shadow of opportunity in our community," said Henry.

Tucker is excited to soon have more tech resources and education just down the street.

"I like the fact that we're getting a center where we can get the technology we need without having to leave our neighborhood," said Tucker.

The center is set to open August 1st. Henry said they're also working with other neighborhoods in the Southside to create a digital equity action plan to ensure everyone has online access.