The digital divide in Dallas is getting a little smaller today. The Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA) opened the doors to its newest tech hub—the Connected Dallas Tech Lab at Bachman Lake Together—representing a major milestone in the effort to bring internet access and opportunity to all.
The new “Community Anchor Site,” outfitted with computers and Wi-Fi, is the second of eight brick-and-mortar walk-in centers planned to open by summer 2024 as part of DIA’s Connected Dallas initiative. At these tech labs, residents can walk in and get free one-on-one help enrolling in low-cost internet plans, learning digital skills, and utilizing technology to further their education and economic mobility.
“Reaching the goal of ‘internet for all’ requires partnership and comprehensive resource delivery,” said Jennifer Sanders, executive director of DIA, in a news release. “Getting all Dallas residents fully engaged in the opportunities that today’s digital world provides is complex and requires each of us to play a part—today represents a huge moment in realizing this vision.”
The site at Bachman Lake Together is now open for regular operations Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m., with additional evening and Saturday hours monthly.
Local Digital Ambassadors also run digital skills workshops. The City of Dallas sees these new Community Anchor Sites as key resources for bridging the digital divide. The city is committed to cross-sector collaboration addressing needs to get all residents connected,” says Genesis Gavino, chief of staff to the city manager. “The Tech Lab at Bachman Lake Together supports digital access right within the neighborhood, and we’re thrilled to take another step towards internet for all,” Gavino said in the news release.
Connected Dallas partner CARDboard Project will contribute to the effort by providing workshops and case management services.
Major funding from partners
Major funding comes from partners including AT&T, Santander Consumer USA Foundation, and the Dallas Foundation. “We firmly believe every community should have affordable devices, high-speed internet, and essential digital skills to maximize connections,” added Mylayna Albright, AT&T’s assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility. “Our partnership with Connected Dallas brings us immense joy, and we remain committed to a brighter future for Dallas.”
Residents and organizations can visit ConnectedDallas.org to request training sessions and Digital Ambassador office hours. “This second Community Anchor Site will allow a physical hub for ongoing internet connectivity help,” said Christopher Pfirrman, chief legal officer at Santander Consumer, in the announcement. “We’re proud to support digital inclusion and economic prosperity.”
For Olga Martinez Hickman, executive director of Bachman Lake Together, the new tech lab represents a way to “connect entire families and community members with the latest technology and resources to help further their education, economic mobility and overall quality of life.”
Bachman Lake Together is a backbone organization for its Dallas neighborhood of the same name. Founded in 2009 through a five-year commitment from the Zero to Five Funders Collective, Bachman Lake Together works for the collective impact of community members, including over 50 partner organizations, committees, and working groups. By giving kids a solid foundation in the earliest, most critical developmental years from ages 0 to 5, Bachman Lake Together aims to set them up to thrive in school and life.
Place-based approach to digital skills training and access
The Connected Dallas program falls under the umbrella of the Dallas Innovation Alliance, or DIA, which is a cross-sector partnership supporting Dallas’ smart cities strategy. Connected Dallas aims to provide digital access touchpoints tailored to the community, including text, chat, phone, online, and now in-person at local organizations like Bachman Lake Together. That hyper-local, meet-people-where-they-are framework comes from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.
The program adds to DIA’s mission of leveraging data, technology, and community partnerships to enable inclusive economic growth and improve quality of life across Dallas.
Coming soon: Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation lab
The digital inclusion effort isn’t stopping at Bachman Lake. A third Community Anchor Site is set to open in December at Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation. By summer 2024, DIA says its eight planned walk-in centers are expected to be open.
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