Local Partners Team Up to Bridge the Digital Divide in Cleveland
More residents in Clark-Fulton getting connected to affordable high-speed internet, receiving digital skills training
The MetroHealth System and DigitalC are partnering again to continue to close the digital divide in Cleveland. This latest collaboration will deliver high-speed, low-cost internet access to six Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) properties and provide digital skills training. This skills training will increase residents’ access to virtual health care and online appointment scheduling, as well as their ability to apply for a job online, digitally access social services and more.
The nearly $1 million “Connected Care” pilot program is funded through a $901,000 grant from the Federal Communications Commission. This three-year program expands MetroHealth’s Digital Connectivity Initiative, started in 2019 with an initial investment of $600,000 from Dollar Bank, and will connect 1,000 households by 2025 in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. To date, more than 600 households have been connected by DigitalC through its EmpowerCLE+ wireless internet service provider. DigitalC is a nonprofit based in Cleveland that is working to connect the unconnected in the city’s underserved neighborhoods.
“We knew, even before the pandemic, that being able to connect and access resources online was vital to a person’s health and wellbeing,” said MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE. “Whether it is applying for a job, studying for a class, or seeing a relative who lives elsewhere, connectivity is vital. We are proud to work with DigitalC and CMHA to bring people together.”
The CMHA properties that will receive access to the low-cost, high-speed internet and whose residents will receive digital skills training are:
● Doris V. Jones, 4609 Rocky River Drive
● Miles Pointe, 11806 Miles Ave.
● Phoenix Village, 6001 Woodland Ave.
● King Kennedy South, 6001 Woodland Ave.
● Lakeview Terrace, 1332 W. 28th Street
● Ambleside, 2190 Ambleside Drive
The first households in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood began receiving subsidized internet access in April 2020, thanks in part to support from Dollar Bank. Dollar Bank’s gift enabled low-cost internet service to be made available to residents in the CMHA Scranton Castle senior apartment complex on Scranton Road, and then Riverview Tower on W. 25th Street. Dollar Bank subsidies will also be offered to the additional CMHA properties included in this expanded project.
“We are excited to expand our partnership with MetroHealth and CMHA to bring affordable, reliable, high-speed home internet connections, and digital training and support to our neighbors,” said DigitalC Interim CEO Sharon Sobol Jordan. “There is no reason for Clevelanders to wait any longer to get connected.”
“Digital connectivity plays a huge role in improving lives, and through this collaboration, we are positively impacting our residents - the youth, adults, and seniors - of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority,” said Jeffery K. Patterson, Chief Executive Officer of CMHA. “Our world is driven by connectivity, and this opportunity allows our residents to help close the digital divide.”
Cleveland was identified as the worst-connected big city in the nation, according to the 2019 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census; it is the latest one-year estimate available.
Dr. Boutros made a bold commitment to address the digital divide in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood in 2019 – well before the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the digital disparities in our city.
This Digital Connectivity Initiative is operated by MetroHealth’s Institute for H.O.P.E. and enables MetroHealth neighbors to connect to the internet and their health care providers through video visits and health coaching.
Clark-Fulton resident Destiny White has been an EmpowerCLE+ internet customer for about a year. The mother of three works as a PRN nurse at a local hospital and relies on the high-speed internet to access her work schedules, communicate with her colleagues and more. Her 7-year-old daughter has used the internet for online schooling and also received a free laptop from DigitalC, through its partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
MetroHealth was selected for this FCC pilot for its innovative approach to providing connectivity for patients residing in public housing and facilitating treatment of chronic physical or mental health conditions. Remote health care helps patients in the treatment of such chronic and long-term health conditions as diabetes, hypertension and issues related to mental health.
In addition to connecting people to health care treatment and scheduling opportunities, the “Connected Care” pilot also has goals of: improving opportunities for social connection, such as video chat; increasing awareness of social service agencies that can help with food, transportation and other needs; leveraging digital resources to complete school projects and perform research; and improving awareness of how to apply for jobs, college, scholarships and financial assistance programs.
DigitalC, MetroHealth and Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center (ASC3) collaborate to provide digital skills training for CMHA residents to bring them to meaningful use of the technology with the goal of improving residents' healthcare, education and economic opportunity.
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.