August 25, 2009

Street Sense gets Web Presence

Our friends at Street Sense have a great new website! The site was produced by Community IT Innovators (CITI). They’ve also recently launched a channel on a neat user-generated aggregation service called MIXX that culls homelessness news from all over the country. (You can find it through the “Homelessness Headlines” section towards the bottom of the front page.)

These are good steps forward. Street Sense’s street-vendor model is an innovative and popular way to engage homeless people in production and vending of their own publication, and each issue contains voices that rarely get heard even on the internet. Street Sense can now share its messages, beyond the street, as part of a broader dialogue.

For instance, we found out about this interesting program in an article called “Crossing the Digital Divide” by Laura Dean:

Helping homeless people become technologically savvy is the cornerstone of Lou August’s business partnership between his technology company, Wilderness Technology Alliance, and D.C.’s largest shelter, the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV).

The idea behind the business model is to build a self-sustaining, technology company that is managed and operated by the homeless, while providing an outlet for D.C. businesses to take advantage of high-quality training programs and refurbished computer systems offered by WildTech-CCNV staff members.

The technology center located at the shelter provides training classes, job search skills, software training classes and Internet access to the nearly 1,000 residents of the shelter. The benefits of the technology classes offered at CCNV reach far beyond the people that reside at the shelter. A $99 computer class is offered every other Saturday to low income residents of Washington, D.C. WildTech-CCNV endeavors to give each participant who completes the class a free, refurbished Pentium-4 computer.

Sounds like a promising attempts to address the Digital Divide problem we discussed here last week. If you’ve had experience with this program, or are aware of similar programs that we should check out, let us know!

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