I felt a twinge of guilt reading Cecilia Kang’s NYTimes article on unemployed Detroit residents trapped by a digital divide.

Charlie Cone advised us on all sorts of matters in Detroit including IT and internet.  Charlie was a retired Colonel who had helped set the Air Force on course into the computing age. During my final year in Detroit Charlie had suggested that our west side Salvation Army Corps investigate bringing internet into our neighborhood.  Agreed.  We began talking with those who could help make it a reality for the many families in our deeply under resourced community.  It stopped when our ‘moving orders’ came.  And it was not picked up by our successor.

A few years ago Michael Liimatta, who I met through our partnering with City Vision College, took off with internet access to underserved neighborhoods in Kansas City.  Michael is co-founder of Connecting For Good, “the only Kansas City organization with the sole mission of digital inclusion …to make sure our community’s most vulnerable members have the tools and the knowledge to use the Internet to improve their lives.”  Michael has moved on, now in Washington as the manager of HUD’s ConnectHome a pilot program “launched in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation to reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home.”

Kansas City and many other places around the USA will benefit from ConnectHome.  Will Detroit?

Listen to last week’s interview of Michael Liimatta on KC public radio KCUR.

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