Making technology accessible to families in need

RYF_Connected_logoIn early August, I had the pleasure of participating in the launch of Connected For Success™, a national program that helps needy families with low-cost Internet access, personal computers and software. The program, offered initially to eligible Toronto Community Housing (TCH) residents, is designed give more youth online access and the tools and resources needed to experience connectivity.

It is my hope that Connected for Success will help bridge Canada’s ‘digital divide’. As Harry Zarek (President of Compugen) referenced during the launch, there is clearly a divide between those families that have access to technology and the Internet and those that don’t. He believes, and I agree, that too many disadvantaged families cannot afford at-home Internet access with up-to-date technology and, as a result, too many children have to play catch-up later.

Through association with Toronto Community Housing, the program has the potential to reach many of their 164,000 low- and moderate-income tenants including recent immigrants and those with special needs. It seems a natural connection given the goals of the program.

Connected for Success has no catch. It’s for real.

It is perhaps a statement about the challenges that many TCH residents face daily that the initial reaction has often been “What’s the catch?” While many residents are eager to climb on board and get connected, we are also faced with the unexpected challenge of getting the word out about this opportunity to have computer and internet access from home. It’s a challenge I welcome as I believe that there are many in the community that will benefit far beyond what they imagine.

It’s also been heartening to see the warm reception that Connected for Success has received; with new recipients taking to Facebook to share their excitement about their new computers, and partners joining in to make the program that much more beneficial to participants. Most recently, Aeroplan has joined the program and taken on the challenge of outfitting community centres at 30 TCH facilities with refurbished personal computers purchased from Compugen Finance. TCH residents will be able to go to the computer labs to learn and socialize. By providing the chance to Aeroplan members to donate to the program, they’re also giving the general Toronto community the opportunity to participate.

Increasing the literacy of our youth is a national imperative, and as a Compugen employee, I’m proud of the company’s continued interest in supporting initiatives such as this; and I’m thankful to have Rogers Communications and Microsoft Canada for working with us to develop a program that we can all be proud of.

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