On Thursday, September 7th I hosted a press conference to announce the launch of a Digital Navigator Program Supported by a $150,000 grant from Comcast. This program will connect trained students – Digital Navigators – with other CCBC students and Baltimore-area residents to help them access the internet, use devices, and obtain skills to bridge the digital divide. But the importance of this event framed a much larger story.
Three huge community partners came together to do something powerful and good for the communities they mutually serve. The County donated 3,000 Chromebooks; Comcast provided free digital access to all of them; and the college recruited the students. As employees from all three partners set up shop in large distribution areas, hundreds of qualifying CCBC students lined up on each campus in expectation of receiving a brand-new Chromebook and the key to the digital highway. And so, the foundation is laid for each of them to put these tools to good use in their coursework at CCBC.
At CCBC we try to always “lead with equity,” guided by two mantras: “Every One of Us Counts” and “Taking Actions that Matter”. Thus, CCBC made the hard decision to remain fully open during the pandemic to serve the 8,000-10,000 students who could not continue their education remotely. These students had no technology; no access to Wi-Fi; no skill to use them and no home environment conducive to learning. From this experience, our focus has now morphed into an agenda that invests in innovative approaches to bridge the digital divide so that students can be successful, no matter the conditions around them.
Deeply dedicated to advancing digital equity, Comcast and the County’s continued investment in our community empowers our students and the greater Baltimore area to stay connected at home and on-campus. In the words of one Digital Navigator, Loretta Ambe, this innovative program will help Baltimore County residents “harness the power of the internet.” This is the real significance of Thursday’s celebration: expanding the digital footprint of CCBC students and their families.
Both WMAR and WYPR were present at Thursday’s event, and I am happy to share their reportage here, “Digital Navigator program helps CCBC students train people on internet use” and “Community college of Baltimore County launches digital navigator program.”