I’ve posted in the past about my own experience with and belief in genealogy and computers as basic tools to engage our kids in learning and their own education.
We often hear how education is the key to work and financial security and solvency in today’s world. You’ll notice I’ve not used the word success, and the reason for this is most of us work daily, full time jobs and live payday to payday to just pay the bills. I don’t see this as success. I see this as a life necessity.
To me, success is that 1% our population known as ‘the haves,’ those whose income far exceeds the basic requirements to live comfortably.
A large portion of the lower and middle classes can’t afford post-secondary education for our kids. This may result in a more difficult path to the better paying jobs through hard work and ‘climbing the ladder’ from within. I’m not including entrepreneurship as the old adage is definitely appropriate here, “It takes money to make money.”
Nowadays, however, even minimum wage, entry and lower level jobs require some skill and ability with computers and familiarity and knowledge of the internet. As a matter of fact, even the search for employment requires a minimum level of computer and internet skills and ready access to the equipment and computers necessary. If a worker lacks these in addition to a post secondary education, their prospects are bleak at best.
Then I came upon an article on the ‘SFGate‘ site. Titled “Genealogy searches draw in minority, older community users,” it paints a hopeful picture of one community’s success providing training, equipment and facilities for low income, minority and older internet and computer users for free.
According to the 2010 article,’Disconnected, Disenfranchised, and Poor: Addressing Digital Inequality in America,’ “Research conducted by the Pew Research Center indicates that those with limited income and education are most likely to not use the internet or even understand how to use a computer. Internet use is clearly tied to economic status and education. While 95% of upper-income households use the Internet, 37% of lower-income households do not. And while 4 % of college graduates do not use the internet, 48 % of those without a high school diploma do not. About half of non-users identify cost and lack of computer skills as the primary barriers.”
In line with my own beliefs, they state, “No group should be denied internet access and the benefits derived from its use because of low income, place of residence, disability, gender, or race-ethnicity.”
Despite my agoraphobic self, I would love to start, or even just be involved in such a program in our own community. However, with everything else in life, it takes money. Even the most modest facilities and used computers cost some money. Then add in the utilities and digital services necessary to run the program.
Perhaps others will read this and decide this would be a worthwhile effort in this or other communities.