Digital Works: Paving a Path Toward Hope

(L-R) VICTORIA RICHARDSON, CRYSTAL AMESQUITA, MICHALA RICHARDSON, JOHN WALLACE, MARY SMITH, MAUREEN DUNLEVY, SHARON DAWSON,
ALYCIA WARD, STACY CHEVER, TAMMY SPRING

Columbus, Ohio (July 26, 2018) – A single mom, a U.S. veteran, and a senior citizen are just some of the graduates who were recently honored in a special graduation ceremony at the Reeb Avenue Center in Columbus, Ohio. A grant from Charter Communications, Inc., also known as Spectrum, provided support for three Digital Works (DW) classes in Columbus.

Digital Works is an innovative workforce-development program of Connected Nation. It focuses on the growing need for workers who are trained in digital job skills and customer service, and it provides job-placement assistance and career mentorship.

“Something like this would give me the ability to spend time with my children, to actually be present and not be sleepy,” said Alycia Ward, a DW graduate and mother of three. “It is the flexibility of being able to work 9 to 5 and have that set schedule as well so that I can work my job around my family.”

“I’m on a limited income right now, Social Security, and I really needed to supplement it. It really just means a lot to me to be able to be on my own,” said Maureen Dunlevy, a DW graduate and retiree. “I don’t have to rely on social agencies or my kids or anybody else.”

“It’s exciting to live out all parts of our mission and guide next-generation broadband policy and expansion efforts surrounding autonomous vehicles, robotics, artificial intelligence, precision farming, Internet of Things and doorbells with cameras,” said Stu Johnson, VP of Digital Works. “But there can be no better expression of Connected Nation’s work to bridge the Digital Divide than celebrating these individuals who have literally altered the trajectory of their lives through the introduction of technology, one family at a time.”

Digital Works has graduated nearly 900 students in states across the country since its inception in 2013. Students come from all different backgrounds—some live in rural areas, others in urban areas like Columbus. Some were struggling to make ends meet or simply hoping for a fresh start.

That was the case for both Crystal Amesquita and John Wallace, who found it difficult to get a job after being incarcerated. They each just needed a little help to change their lives and, as DW graduates, are now doing so.

“This program gave me the hope that I would be able to start again and be a productive member of society and allow me to move forward. It gave me hope,” said Wallace, a DW graduate. “People coming from my situation, we all need a chance, and by you taking and giving us that chance, it makes us feel better and makes us move forward away from the old situation and gives us a new situation, and we say ‘oh, we can do this.’”

“I just got a place to live 20 minutes from my job, in a great neighborhood that is a big come-up for my son,” said Amesquita, a DW graduate and single mother. “He won’t be in the ghetto anymore. He’s in a great community. And without Digital Works being in Columbus, I might still be selling drugs and not being able to give him that life.”

How Spectrum Made It All Possible

Stu Johnson, VP of Digital Works, shares why the program is important to Connected Nation’s mission to close the Digital Divide.

Connected Nation (CN) was able to host these latest Digital Works’ classes because Spectrum provided funding in support of the students and the local community. The Digital Works program was one of 17 grant recipients through the Spectrum Digital Education Gr­­ant Program.

“It really is a way to help further the enhancement and education of this digital world that continues to evolve,” said Mike Pedelty, Senior Director of Communications, Spectrum. “There are a lot of people who need to be in this space. It’s going to be important as we move forward that we provide digital literacy. We set aside monies to support organizations like [Connected Nation] to further their knowledge and understanding of this emerging digital world that we live in.”

In its first year of the grant program, the company committed $1 million in grants, in-kind support and technical assistance to nonprofits across the country as part of its commitment to provide digital education in Spectrum communities.

“I think it’s amazing, because you’re really starting to see when you fund the program and you’re starting to see the results of those funds that you provide,” said Pedelty about the Digital Works program. “It’s not that you’re looking ten or 15 years down the road hoping something comes of this. You’re really looking into people’s faces and seeing the satisfaction they got out of the support you’ve given them.”

“I appreciate Spectrum for funding this program,” said Ward. “I can’t just put it into words what this is going to mean for me, the ambition that I have and what I can do with this, so I just appreciate it. I really do.”

To learn more about Digital Works head to digitalworksjobs.com or connectednation.org.