Information Technology as a Community Development Tool
We believe that our vision of universal access to information technology can support community development in a number of ways, including:
Fostering community connections. Access can help people to become and remain involved in community organizations and associations, lowering the cost of such participation in terms of time and inconvenience.
Political empowerment. Access can give citizens more direct access to policy makers and enable socially isolated communities to participate more readily in political debate.
Economic and social empowerment. Access can empower low-income communities by: (1) increasing their supply of education and employment resources; (2) providing entreprenurial and business opportunities; (3) stimulating economic activity by reducing the perceived risks of doing business in those markets; and (4) reducing social isolation by making social and cultural resources more readily available.
Links across communities. Access can broaden the concept of community by enabling people to form associations and relationships across neighborhood, community, cultural, and economic barriers.
Our project will seek to advance these goals by:
- Involving individuals and organizations from across Austin, as direct participants, volunteers, and supporters. This will help to forge closer ties between East and West Austin.
- Engaging the participants in our project in direct dialogue with policy makers surrounding telecommunications, education, and economic development in Austin.
- Requiring the participants in our "E-Mail for Eight" project to serve their community through technology mentoring for community residents and technical assistance for community organizations. In addition to building the information skills of individuals, this project will build information skills capacity for the East Austin community as a whole.
- Involving employers and the Austin Job Training Partnership to promote links between project participants and local businesses.
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