AT&T, Digitunity and Jersey City Housing Authority working to provide free digital literacy workshops

According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 16 percent of U.S. adults are not digitally literate. In addition, about 40% of disconnected students face significant adoption barriers including insufficient digital literacy skills.

To help close the digital divide, it’s important that families have accessible and affordable internet connectivity, but equally as important is that they have the digital literacy skills needed to use and benefit from the internet.

In Jersey City, free digital literacy workshops provided by AT&T, Digitunity and the Jersey City Housing Authority are helping Jersey City residents of low-income households gain skills and confidence to participate fully, safely and responsibly in today’s digital world.

The workshop series is part of AT&T’s collaboration with the national Public Library Association. The latest workshops were held at the TJ Stewart Apartments March 23, the second in a series of events made available through this collaboration. The first was held on February 15 at JCHA’s Berry Gardens development.

These workshops allow participants to select from a range of video courses on basic digital literacy skills, including using email, accessing a web browser, remembering passwords, and cyber security. To support all types of learners, sessions incorporated presentations and handouts, as well as student activities facilitated by AT&T volunteers and community organizers.

For those unable to attend community workshops, and for learners seeking to continue building their skills, AT&T has created a curated series of free, self-paced digital literacy courses in collaboration with PLA that is accessible online for learners everywhere. Here, people can advance their digital literacy skills through guided instruction, animated demonstrations and hands-on learning in English or Spanish.

Stephen Cea, Interim Executive Director, Jersey City Housing Authority, was grateful for the effort.

“Tackling an issue as broad as digital literacy is no easy feat,” he said. “But we strongly believe that on-the-ground, individualized support is the best way to make a difference for our most vulnerable local families. These digital literacy community workshops supported by AT&T create much-needed space for hands-on, digital learning opportunities.”

Arvind Swamy, regional director of AT&T External Affairs in New Jersey, said the company was happy to help.

“Families most impacted by the digital divide need more than just accessible and affordable connectivity,” Swamy said. “To truly thrive, it’s important that we also provide digital literacy resources that teach the skills that students and families need to support online learning and complete other basic tasks. Together with the Jersey City Housing Authority and Digitunity, we’re proud to offer online courses and free workshops to help learners advance those very skills.”

Karisa Tashjian, director of programs at Digitunity, said the program will have impact.

“Digitunity is thrilled to partner with AT&T and JCHA on this project,” she said. “It’s inspiring as residents recognize how critical having digital literacy skills are to participate in today’s digital society and take part in these high-quality courses.

“They will use the skills they gain in their jobs, education, healthcare as well as in creative, financial and civic pursuits.”

The initiative is part of the AT&T Connected Learning initiative and part of the company’s 3-year, $2 billion commitment it made in 2021 to address the digital divide through investments in internet accessibility, affordability and the safe adoption of technology.