About California Connects

Created by the Foundation for California Community Colleges, California Connects (CC) was built through a partnership between community members, local educators, and academic researchers who shared the conviction that everyone should have the opportunity to benefit from the abundance of information, services, and personal and professional connections available through broadband technology. Sustainable, community-level broadband adoption programs are necessary for ensuring that opportunity. From February 2011 through June 2013, California Connects implemented innovative programs to try to serve the needs of California’s most underserved populations.

California Connects had three distinct strategies:

  1. Free computer classes, implemented by the Great Valley Center (GVC).
    • Semi-structured informal training in structured institutional environments.
      • The Great Valley Center, a community-economic-development organization in the Central Valley, managed a network of community trainers (representative of the communities being served) spread throughout 18 counties who provided free computer classes, primarily for low-income Spanish speakers, in collaboration with community and public institutions.
  2. Laptops for community college MESA students who then trained family and community members, implemented by MESA.
    • The MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) programs at 34 California community colleges provided laptops with up to six months’ Internet service to 5800 students, who in turn were expected to train family and community members in computer use.
  3. Online technology teaching tool, created by American River College.
    • The American River College’s Computer Science and Information Technology faculty designed an online digital-literacy tool called Living With Technology (LWT).

California Connects provides a solid blueprint for addressing the challenges of digital destitution and building the foundation for digital equality. By engaging with communities and individuals within them, it forged new connections to the digital world. The California Connects programs investigated the process of becoming digitally competent, from outreach to pedagogical practices to curriculum design, assessing how to effectively respond to the linguistic and economic priorities of communities while maximizing their available resources. Through collaboration with independent researchers, California Connects also gained valuable insights from classroom observations and from interviews, focus groups, and surveys of program participants and leaders.

Digital Equality

Digital equality ensures that all individuals have equal opportunity for connecting independently to the social and economic benefits that the Internet offers. Digital equality means:

  • Affordable access to vital technology
  • Equal rights to educational opportunities about technology
  • Technology adoption without reference to economic status

Digital equality means that all people are able to participate in the economic, social, political, and institutional processes that technology facilitates.

Why Digital Equality Matters

Individuals and institutions that interact with the world via broadband-related technologies have a competitive advantage over those that do not. Being unable to use network technology both reflects and recreates existing patterns of poverty and systemic inequality within California and across the United States. Digital Destitution is a state of disconnection from the vital economic, social, and institutional processes that depend on broadband technology. Read more about digital destitution…

As broadband technologies become ever more integral to society, California Connects and programs like it are creating and implementing versatile strategies for connecting communities to these vital technologies.

California Connects sought to:

  • Address the challenges of insufficient infrastructure and resources in many under- and un-served communities
  • Develop pedagogical materials appropriate for new adopters of technology
  • Establish a baseline for the time required to acquire sufficient basic knowledge
  • Build sustainable, community-level adoption programs that promote sharing of knowledge and access to broadband technologies