Manchaca Village Residents Get Connected at a Tech Feria

Beth PhillipsDigital Inclusion

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Austin Pathways, Google Fiber and Austin Free-Net recently hosted a Tech Feria at Manchaca Village to inform residents of opportunities to sign up for free Internet service, email and digital literacy classes.

Residents also entered a raffle to win prizes including T-shirts, water bottles and a refurbished computer, and were invited to voice their opinions during a survey conducted by University of Texas researchers.

Volunteers from the Austin 3-1-1 and the Austin Independent School District  shared a variety of online services and resources, like how to report potholes and schedule parent-teacher conferences online.

Studies show equitable access to technology directly translates into workforce development, education, social inclusion, health and civic engagement.

HACA residents will have access to free basic broadband Internet service as soon as Google Fiber is ready. Manchaca Village will be the first HACA property to receive Google Fiber. Austin Free-Net welcomed an incoming class of 20 Manchaca residents for six weeks of free digital literacy classes where they can learn basic computer skills including how to pay bills online, video chat with loved ones who live far away, or promote a small business through social media.

In November, Austin Pathways and Google Fiber announced Unlocking the Connection, a community-based initiative to help bridge the city’s digital divide and help families build self-sufficiency that supports economic independence through digital inclusion.

In addition, Google Fiber awarded Booker T. Washington Terraces with a 1GB Community Connection. Austin Community College has provided refurbished computers for households in HACA’s first six properties to receive free basic broadband Internet. Corporate philanthropic sponsors include IBM, Freescale, and Rackspace, as well as the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.

Austin Pathways invites philanthropic, corporate and nonprofit partners to join Unlocking the Connection. For more information about the initiative, contact Catherine Crago at catherinec@austinpathways.org.