Today Next Century Cities hosted a policy forum at SXSW EDU in Austin, Texas. The forum, “Collaboration as a Path to Digital Equity,” discussed how the City of Charlotte, N.C., Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, and the non-profit Eliminate the Digital Divide (E2D) partnered to address the city’s “homework gap.”

 

The forum was moderated by Next Century Cities’ Executive Director Deb Socia, and featured former Mayor Jennifer Roberts of the City of Charlotte; Valerie Truesdale, Chief Officer of Technology, Personalized Learning, and Engagement at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; and Pat Millen, Founder and President of Eliminate the Digital Divide.

 

The panelists discussed the value of collaboration in solving the lack of access experienced by many students in Charlotte. The city’s successful partnership brought connectivity to 4,200 families through their laptop initiative and digital skills training.

 

“We saw a need in Charlotte to focus on upward mobility, and the digital divide is a large part of this economic disparity,” said former Mayor of Charlotte Jennifer Roberts. “We came together as a community to leverage every resource to solve this challenge.”

 

The panelists also laid out a blueprint for successful collaboration, and provided concrete action steps for other communities hoping to implement digital inclusion initiatives.

 

“This program was a success because it engaged so many community stakeholders,” said Deb Socia. “When the school, the city, and the community combined efforts, they were able to make a real difference in the lives of children and families across Charlotte.”

 

A recording of this panel will be available in the coming weeks.