By Kate Rivera
The Technology Learning Collaborative (TLC) drives the digital literacy, access, and inclusion conversations in Philadelphia by promoting professional collaboration, training, and networking among organizations and individuals.
TLC has operated as a community-based digital equity coalition since its founding in 2012, an outgrowth of the city-wide collaboration that established a network of 77 free public computer labs. The organization provides professional development for digital inclusion practitioners and direct service providers by hosting workshops, an annual conference, and information sharing.
Philadelphia has the unfortunate distinction of being the poorest of the United States’ 10 largest cities. About 16% of Philadelphia households lack home internet access, meaning that approximately 96,000 households face barriers to broadband access and adoption. We are also one of the most disconnected large cities in the US.
Achieving digital equity in Philadelphia requires a well-coordinated, resource-intensive, and multi-pronged effort between local and community leadership. In a moment when the City and communities are developing ways to ensure that all residents have reliable and affordable ways to get online, TLC is uniquely positioned as a connector, convenor, and advocate for Philadelphia’s digital equity ecosystem.
TLC’s Annual Conference
Save the Date for TLC’s 9th Annual Conference, Building Connections: Strengthening Our Digital Equity Community, on October 5th, 2023, at Temple University in Philadelphia. A live stream option will be available for limited parts of the conference. Although the conference is tailored to Philadelphia’s digital equity community, many of the topics will be applicable and of interest to others across the state.
Timed to coincide with National Digital Inclusion Week, TLC’s conference will feature guest speakers, breakout sessions, and more. As we plan and prepare for a historic infusion of federal funding for digital equity work, this year’s theme focuses on expanding and strengthening our community–now and for the long term. Registration will be going live on our website in the coming weeks.
Pennsylvania Statewide Digital Equity Coalition
TLC has partnered with the Greater Pittsburgh Digital Inclusion Alliance to co-convene the Pennsylvania Statewide Digital Equity Coalition, a group of organizations working to advance a statewide strategy for community-informed broadband and digital equity work. As practitioners and advocates, our priorities include promoting meaningful community engagement in the state planning processes and true partnership and substantial dialogue with digital inclusion practitioners. Ultimately, we share goals for Pennsylvania’s broadband and digital equity funding to be invested in the organizations doing effective work in communities with the greatest need.
We are thankful to count the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) as a partner in this endeavor. PBDA staff have worked hard to create pathways for practitioners and community members to infuse input and insights into the state planning processes, despite short timelines and administrative hurdles. States who are underutilizing these important assets are missing key insights and run the risk of implementing strategies that fall short of real community needs and lasting solutions.
Currently, there are two surveys designed to collect key input for the state’s planning and implementation process:
All Pennsylvania residents should complete the Broadband Connectivity and Digital Access Survey. The survey is available in multiple languages, via phone, or on paper. For more information visit the PBDA’s Internet for All site.
Digital inclusion practitioners and advocates statewide should provide insights on your organization’s mission and target populations on the PA Digital Equity Stakeholder Questionnaire.