The digital gap across America, and specifically in a socially and economically segregated city like Milwaukee, presents challenges to teens and families in poverty who are just trying to do basic things like apply for jobs, complete homework assignments, pay bills, make decisions on major purchases, or participate in civic activities.
City on a Hill is working to bridge that digital divide by partnering with the local nonprofit Digital Bridge. In a pilot program, young people gained computer skills to express themselves artistically and developed the technical skills necessary in many careers.
Parents of youth who participated were given desktop computers and access to discounted internet for their homes. The equipment and access opening up opportunities for “connectedness” in low-income households. For most of the families, it was their first computer.
Youth were engaged in digital arts classes at City on a Hill for 10 weeks, focusing on websites, promotional graphics, photography and presentations. When students presented their final projects at the Digital Arts Showcase, parents were there to see their work and box up the computers, monitors and keyboards to take home. Digital Bridge provided the computers at low-cost to City on a Hill, which then gave them to families free of cost.
“We recognize that to equip young people for a successful future we need to identify their strengths and remove obstacles in their path. This pilot program is a great way to do that with digital inclusion,” said Diane De La Santos, Executive Director for City on a Hill.
The pilot program was funded in part by a grant from Bader Philanthropies to City on a Hill through United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM), a collaborative of eight central city organizations making Milwaukee neighborhoods strong. Bader Philanthropies has been a vital funding partner to City on a Hill in developing its youth programs and equipping young people to break the cycle of poverty.
City on a Hill is a 18-year-old faith-based nonprofit that works to equip young people with skills and opportunities that help them break out of the cycle of generational poverty in their families, Located in a repurposed hospital on Milwaukee’s near west side, City on a Hill has become a place of transformation for people of all ages.