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How Longmont is Bridging the Digital Divide
The City of Longmont initiated the first elements of the Digital Divide program in 2006 by negotiating 260 free connections in their Wifi contract with Kite Networks. Since then, the City of Longmont has grown this program by refurbishing all of their used computers through a local agency and giving them to families living in low income or subsidized housing with school aged children in Longmont. By providing these children with computer systems, it has helped to allow the students to keep up and not fall behind their classmates. It also continues to provide them with an opportunity to learn while using computers and the internet outside of school. This program has recently received another boost with the partnerships formed by Ridgeviewtel, St Vrain Schools, the City of Longmont and local businesses to expand the free connections, personal computers and support through the FTSBTS initiative.
FTSBTS (For The Students, By The Students) is a grassroots initiative aimed to cross the Digital Divide and help prepare students for their digitally connected future. This effort is spearheaded by a core group of Skyline High School students who are part of the STEM and VPA Academies. It is perhaps not one of the first student-run movements, but definitely one of the few. Real students do the work (marketing, PR and technical support) and gain experience in business and consumer technology, while helping other students to gain digital literacy and access to the online facilities that they need.
Kids are growing up in a world that is moving more and more towards computers and other technology. People need to be digitally literate, and it is the students, especially, that need to be come familiar with the concept of using computers for most everything. What better way to accomplish all this than to have students teaching students? We are looking for local supporters to help with the cost of laptops and connectivity for those that do not have what they need are forced to go to the library or stay at school to finish their homework. FTSBTS began as a collaborate effort between the City of Longmont, Skyline High School, the St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD), and RidgeviewTel. Please visit www.ftsbts.org to sponsor us or for more information!