Briana Washington is an Organizer under the Chicago Connected initiative who has been working for SWOP for just around 2 years and although she has not been organizing as long as some of her peers, her work has been extremely impactful in the community. The Chicago Connected program was created to bridge the internet gap for families who could not afford high-speed internet so that during the pandemic, students could continue to attend class online. The bulk of her work has been centered around providing high speed internet for CPS families in need of it but she has also branched out to providing digital literacy classes to adults.
Briana stated that she wants to find ways that people can use technology to benefit their everyday lives. “There are a ton of CPS parents who don’t have emails, who need to know how to stay informed about their child and know how to go about checking their grades. With quarantining, we realized how much we all need tech in the modern age and some people who aren’t as technologically inclined would need assistance in being brought up to speed.”, she replied in response to being asked about how this work benefited community members.
When asked about what sort of advice she would offer to anyone pursuing this type of effort, she stated. “I believe that an important quality to practice is having patience, especially when it comes to older individuals and people not familiar with tech. Being supportive is also a great trait to have, since you don’t want anyone to be discouraged if they don’t get it on the first go around. It’s truly a learning experience for everyone involved, so it’s best to keep an open mind when moving into this work.” She’s learned that the parents she teaches really appreciate the patience she has shown when going over the curriculum.
To date, SWOP has assisted thousands of Chicagoans in securing free internet via the Chicago Connected program and is proud of the steps it has taken to improve digital literacy for the community.