Digital Inclusion Impact: Job Seeker Program
This project is one of the original pilots for the Digital Inclusion program at Louisville Metro. In late 2016, the Office of Civic Innovation (OCI), Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL), and Office of Resilience & Community Services (RCS) started planning this project with the aim of supporting RCS clients that needed modern digital tools to find a job, complete school, or reach some other set goal. The planning group selected to provide a Chromebook and unlimited data hotspot, free of charge, to 15 participants in s self-sufficiency program.
58% of participants obtained employment or earned a degree during or shortly after the program
LFPL procured the various devices from their budget and developed a short training program for case managers to help their clients get set up at the beginning of the program. In January 2017, we kicked off the program with a Case Manager training on the devices and the Google Suite alongside an overview of the program.
This project was an experiment in the truest sense. We did not know what to expect from the program at the start. We did not know if the technology would survive the year, even more important, we didn’t not know how valuable these would be to the participants.
Participants in this program found it beneficial to reaching their goals. Of the nine interviewed about the program, every respondent said the program rated a “5 out of 5” during the interview, with the exception of one respondent who rated it a “4 out of 5”. By working with RCS’ self-sufficiency program, we able to layer on our digital inclusion support instead of creating a whole new program. This allowed our program to have maximum impact on our community and the clients.
Based on the interviews with participants, the devices helped most with time management by giving them the ability to connect to the internet wherever they were, at whatever time. The vast majority of the participants were mothers, and for them, it was hugely beneficial for them to be able to work on the go and after-hours. Several of them mentioned that before the program, they would have to bring their kids to their school library to complete their assignments, but, with the devices, they were able to do work or access services while waiting for kids at sports practice or school, in between errands, breaks in their day job, and after the kids were in bed. And, they were able to do this at their convenience rather than having to bring the family to a computer lab. In fact, at least two of the participants found the access valuable enough to purchase a Chromebook of their own and get internet access set up at their home.
Additionally, several mothers mentioned that their children used the devices to further their own educational efforts. One of their daughters learned how to read by accessing a JCPS app with the Chromebook, and another’s son used it to learn to code from Treehouse.
Overall, this first year of the program showed the impact of layering on digital inclusion programs with existing support services. Of the 12 participants followed after the first year of the program, seven obtained employment or earned an educational degree.
By supporting an already successful program, the Job Seeker program was able to deepen the impact of their investments as shown by the high-levels of achievement from its participants.