The Christian Science Monitor Weekly

Vol 106 / Issue 33 - 34

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PeoPle making a difference Deb Socia saw inner-city kids without computer skills falling behind. Today, Tech Goes Home helps them – and adults, too. Ann Hermes/stAff Tech for all: Deb Socia, executive director of Tech Goes Home, is seen at a class at The Salvation Army Children's Learning Center in Boston. By Jenna Fisher / Correspondent Boston A nyone looking for a job these days knows that the search is nearly all done online, from finding openings to submit- ting an application and résumé. Student research projects and scholarship appli - cations have moved online, too. But what if your only access to a com- puter or the Internet is for a half-hour at a school or public library? What if you don't even have an e-mail account? Those without Internet access (often people who are very poor) are fnding it increasingly diffcult to undertake essen- tial everyday tasks like these. An estimated 60 million people in the United States live without access to a home computer or the Internet, according to a study by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. And an estimated 40 million people have ac - cess only to a smart phone, which is not the easiest way to fll out a job application or research and write a school paper. Enter Deb Socia, a lifelong educator and former principal who has become a technology champion for the very poor, those with disabilities, seniors, and im - migrants. Her goal is to help them gain access to and understand how to use the Internet – two things that most people take for granted. Ms. Socia is the driving force behind Tech Goes Home, a program administered by OpenAirBoston, a nonproft group that helps give Boston residents the tools, training, and access needed to success - fully go online. Tech Goes Home connects Boston resi- dents who make $20,000 a year or less and who may have never sent an e-mail before with schools, community programs, and government agencies. Socia and her small team also raise funds and fnd volunteers to help these residents learn how to send e-mails, search for housing and jobs, and create and send digital résumés. These are critical skills in a world where some 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including huge employers such as Wal-Mart and Target – only accept online applications. The program also includes 15 hours of hands-on classroom training and a new small, inexpensive laptop or other mobile device (available for a $50 co-payment). For those who are eligible, the program provides access to low-cost home Internet service, too. Participants leave the program changed: Retirees are able to see their grandchildren via a Skype video call for v Next Page 'There is a solution for every problem. The question is, What does it look like?' – Deb Socia, executive director of Tech Goes Home 42 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY | JuLY 7 & 14, 2014

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