IBM Impact Grant a Foundation for Growth at Austin Housing Authority Nonprofit Austin Pathways

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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As told by Catherine Crago, Strategic Initiatives and Resource Development The Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) is a high-performing housing authority per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), receiving top marks on a variety of measures every year. As far back as 2001, HACA went beyond its mission to provide safe, decent affordable housing by establishing the HACA Scholarship Fund. Today, the agency has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships. And many HACA residents who … Read More

Austin Wins Grant for Initiative to Increase Mobility Equity with Better Access to Online Tools

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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Next Century Cities recently announced that Austin was one of three winning cities for the inaugural Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Awards, given to municipal governments that are harnessing high-speed internet to enhance civic engagement and democratic participation. The Benton Award was given to Austin for the city’s plan to develop Smart Work, Learn, Play, an effort to engage public housing residents near two public transportation hubs to increase citizen access to and use of online public services. Joining Louisville, … Read More

Google Community Leaders Help Residents Plug in to Digital Austin

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion, UT Austin News

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About 20 children who live in apartments operated by the Housing Authority of the City of Austin recently received free refurbished computers donated by Austin Community College after dedicating 40 hours of their summer vacation to STEM education. Three Google Community Leaders from the University of Texas Division of Diversity and Community Engagement attended the computer deployment to help residents assemble and become acclimated to their new machines. The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement works closely with Google to support the five-student … Read More

When It Comes to Digital Inclusion, Start Slow to Go Fast

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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As told by Catherine Crago, Strategic Initiatives and Resource Development This week the White House and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s ConnectHome initiative will host a webinar for participating cities to share what they are learning as they convene stakeholders in their cities to bridge the digital divide. Austin Pathways’ Unlocking the Connection program is credited as a model for other programs; we were pleased to share the Austin experience at the White House in August. Our approach … Read More

It Takes a Village to Bridge the Digital Divide

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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As told by Sylvia Blanco, HACA Executive Vice President Earlier this week, KXAN reported on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro’s visit to the Reimagining Cities conference. Recently, we met with Castro at the first convening of a HUD and White House initiative called ConnectHome, a program in which we serve as a Mentor City for 28 participating communities. Reflecting on our journey over the last nine months, we’d like to share a few lessons … Read More

Austin Housing Authority Digital Inclusion Program Selected by HUD to Mentor Other Cities Across the U.S.

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez today  highlighted the HACA and the City of Austin’s designation as a peer mentor to 28 communities participating in the ConnectHome initiative to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing. ConnectHome was recently unveiled by HUD Secretary Julián Castro and the Obama Administration. Work locally will be led by Austin Pathways. “It is so important that every child be given the same opportunities to build a brighter future and achieve their dreams,” Castro Ramirez said. “That’s … Read More

Austin Pathways Pilots Computer Refurbishing Program

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion, UT Austin News

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Growing up in Kerala, India, Austin Pathways volunteer Unni Krishnan learned the value of reuse at an early age – and a documentary he saw while studying computer engineering at the University of Texas on sustainability made a strong impression. “I always question the need to upgrade. I use an old phone with limited capabilities, but it has everything I need,” Krishnan said. “The same is true for almost everyone. If you don’t have the money to buy a $300 … Read More

Rachel Martinez Named TX NAHRO Resident of the Year

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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Unlocking the Connection spokesperson Rachel Martinez was recently recognized as the 2015 Texas National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) Resident of the Year for a large housing authority during the TX NAHRO 39th Annual Conference and Tradeshow in Austin, Texas. The Resident of the Year award honors individuals who live in public housing, participate in a rental assistance program or are served by a community development agency. Martinez was nominated for the award for demonstrating leadership, commitment, dedication and … Read More

Students Become Teachers in Tech Starters Class

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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Even the most technologically savvy person can learn something new each time they use a computer and connect to the Internet. At the graduation of the second Tech Starters cohort at Meadowbrook Apartments this week, Google Fiber Austin Community Impact Manager Parisa Fatehi-Weeks shared she recently learned how she could use Google Docs to help her mother, whose first language is Farsi, write and edit an important letter in English. “For years, I’ve been helping her write letters, but I’d … Read More

Tech Starters Celebrates Inaugural Graduation

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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Austin Free-Net and Austin Pathways graduated its first class of Tech Starters on March 2 at the Housing Authority of the City of Austin’s Manchaca Village. Each of the residents who completed the digital literacy class received a certificate of participation and a refurbished computer, complete with installed software, a mouse, keyboard and monitor. However graduates said they took away much more than devices as a result of participating in the pilot program. “My favorite thing I learned in class was social media because it opened up a … Read More