Access Tech offers free classes, laptops to city residents

Access Tech, powered by JumpStart and funded by Verizon, aims to leverages collaboration and innovation to expand digital access and learning to individuals and small businesses.

Photo courtesy: Vicki McDonald

Photo courtesy: Vicki McDonald

Jumpstart, an organization made up of entrepreneurs, investors and business experts that focuses on helping entrepreneurs solve problems, grow their businesses and create jobs in their communities, has announced a new digital training initiative aimed at connecting Cleveland residents with the education and tools needed to thrive in the digital economy.

The initiative is Access Tech, powered by JumpStart and funded by Verizon,  and it leverages collaboration and innovation to expand digital access and learning to individuals and small businesses.

“At JumpStart we know transformational change can occur through equity and innovation,” said Lamont Mackley, Chief Inclusion and Outreach Officer at JumpStart, in a press release. “We are excited to partner with Verizon and others to bridge the gap between a growing pool of tech-enabled opportunities and the community eager to fill them.”

Other partners in the training program include the Economic and Community Development Institute, the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development, Urban City Codes and Youth Opportunities Unlimited. MCPc, a global data protection company, is the initiative’s technology partner.

Cleveland is one of four cities chosen by Verizon to implement a digital access and learning initiative to help citizens, from youth to adult, develop skills needed for tech-infused jobs and lives. Other cities include Portland, Pittsburgh and Houston; each city is rolling out unique programming aimed at addressing specific community needs. The programming is a key part of Verizon’s goal to help move the world forward as part of Citizen Verizon, its community efforts towards economic, environmental and social advancement.

Photo courtesy: Vicki McDonald

Photo courtesy: Vicki McDonald

“We are excited about the opportunity to lead and develop innovative, tech-driven and community-focused approaches to promote digital inclusion in Cleveland,” said Jessica Cohen, Manager, State Government Affairs at Verizon, in a press release. “Our investment in this local partnership with JumpStart, will put technology and knowledge in the hands of Cleveland residents and empower them to be part of the digital economy.”

Leaning on the expertise of collaborative partners, Access Tech will provide classes and multi-session programs in three focus areas: Foundational Digital Skills, Career Development and Business Formation and Growth.

Currently, virtual training for the Access Tech Program is scheduled to run through 2024. The programs are offered in a variety of areas on a rolling basis so participants can customize their journey, said Vicki McDonald, communications manager for Jumpstart, in an email. The current program schedule can be viewed here.

“The training programs offered through Access Tech have varying capacity levels,” McDonald said. “Depending on the course’s structure and level, participation can range from an intimate group of 10 to a class size of 100 or an infinite number of registrants for self-led courses. However, most if not all the Access Tech training is offered more than once. Giving interested participants the opportunity to sign-up for a program in the future if the registration has reached its capacity.”

Access Tech aims to remove barriers for residents looking to gain new technology-centered skills. Qualified participants without access to a computer, internet or the software required for learning, are eligible to receive a laptop, hotspot, software and tech support to ensure they have the tools they need to complete the training classes.

To qualify, participants must reside in the city of Cleveland, be over the age of 18 and have some experience with computers (accessing the internet and using basic software like Google Docs or Microsoft Office). Qualified candidates can register for classes and programs directly through the program partner’s website or access the complete training program list on the Access Tech website.

McDonald said the program is perfect for job seekers, career builders and entrepreneurs who meet the required age and location qualifications.

“We are enrolling participants in programming every day,” McDonald said. “Our goal is to ensure we reach and provide access to connectivity, hardware, and training to 1,000 Clevelanders by November of 2021 and we are well on our way.”

Jumpstart is an underwriting partner of The Land, helping to support coverage of entrepreneurship in urban communities.

Maria McGinnis is a senior journalism major at Kent State University and an editorial intern at The Land.

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