City celebrates launch of new initiative that helps underserved Detroiters get online

What’s happening: City officials celebrated the opening of eight “Certified Tech Hubs” in several Detroit neighborhoods earlier this month, a result of city-led efforts to bridge the digital divide and connect more underserved Detroiters to high-speed internet. The City of Detroit Certified Tech Hub initiative is led by the Office of Digital Equity & Inclusion.

What they are: The Certified Tech Hub initiative was launched to better provide residents with access to fast, safe, and reliable internet, creating the new certification to help identify those locations that can reliably provide just that. To be certified, a location must be able to provide access to free Wi-Fi, loaner devices to get online, and basic digital literacy training – and all in a safe environment. 

Why it’s important: “Equitable access to high-speed internet and digital literacy tools can mean the difference between success and failure for our residents, whether they’re working on schoolwork, finding a job, or navigating workforce training tools,” says Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison. “Ensuring our seniors have a place to go to learn how to use the tools they need to keep up in today’s world is also important to us. Director Burkette is doing a great job meeting Detroiters where they are.”

Where they are: The first group of Certified Tech Hubs include the Dick & Sandy Dauch Club of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, Adams Butzel Recreation Center, Comcast Lift Zone at SAY Detroit Play Center, Stoudamire Wellness Center at Eastside Community Network, Comcast Lift Zone at the Detroit Housing Commission Envision Center, Roberto Clemente Recreation Center, Patton Recreation Center, and Detroit Association of Black Organizations.

The City also launched an interactive map where residents can more easily find the Certified Tech Hubs, filtering results by location, digital equity resources available, and more.

What’s next: “Our goal is to register a minimum of 30 Certified Tech Hubs citywide to service the 220,000 residents currently at or below poverty here in the City of Detroit,” says Digital Equity & Inclusion Director Christine Burkette. “Closing the digital divide will require us to work in partnership with community stakeholders. We thank the partners like Comcast and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, who have already stepped forward to provide these important tools and resources to our residents and are excited for this program to expand into even more neighborhoods across the city.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.