The mission of Tech Connect is to promote digital inclusion within all of San Francisco’s socio-economically diverse communities and enable all residents to benefit from access to the Internet and information technology.
Recent research shows that a significant digital divide exists in San Francisco. Low income youth and their families, residents of public housing, limited English speaking communities and the disabled are less likely to have access to computers and the internet.
Tech Connect seeks to bridge this divide by engaging the public, private and nonprofit sectors to provide access to the internet, affordable computers and hardware, technical support and training and community based content and services.
As more of our daily lives are conducted on the Internet, those San Franciscans who are not connected are excluded from opportunities in employment, education, health care, services and the ability to participate in civic affairs. These people are the principal reason for Tech Connect.
Tech Connect is an initiative created by Mayor Gavin Newsom, in close collaboration with the Department of Telecommunications and Information Services, the Mayors Office of Community Development, other government agencies, the private sector and community non-profits and individuals.
The digital inclusion goals of Tech Connect are to:
- Further employment, economic and education opportunities for San Francisco’s underserved communities.
- Enable these communities to utilize the Internet to express their diverse concerns, culture and viewpoints
- Provide a platform for innovative services and applications especially targeted towards underserved communities.
In his first State of the City address, Mayor Newsom declared that every San Franciscan should have access to free wireless internet service. Since then, the City and County of San Francisco launched an initiative to provide citywide, free and affordable wireless internet access through a public/private partnership. However, the City recognizes that addressing the digital divide requires more than internet access. Therefore, Tech Connect is designing and implementing programs that provide technology equipment to those residents who can least afford it, tools to help users make sense of the incredible array of information found on the internet; and training and support so that residents know how to use and access the wealth of opportunity available online.
In 2007, SF Connect worked with Alice Griffith Opportunity Center in Bayview; Booker T. Washington Community Service Center in the Western Addition; Self-Help for the Elderly in Chinatown; Conard House McAllister, Network Ministries and St. Anthony Foundation in the Tenderloin, Caminos Pathways in the Mission and the Visitacion Valley Middle School Community Beacon Center. Tech Connect volunteers and partners repaired equipment, installed wireless Internet access equipment, provided one-on-one advice and training and shared information about affordable computer purchase and repair.