For much of CWEE’s 40-year history, we have honored individuals and partners for their exceptional contributions to our mission with the Silver Flame award. This year we are pleased to honor PCs for People, CWEE’s 2021 Partner of the Year.
Ensuring Every CWEE Career Seeker Has a Laptop and Access to the Internet
The pandemic has highlighted the fact that millions of Americans, including hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, lack access to affordable, high-speed internet at home.
The abrupt shift to remote work and school left many families in an extremely tough spot, exposing the fact that the digital divide in the U.S. is far wider than many of us imagined.
As an organization focused on employment in a virtual world, CWEE centers around digital equity and digital skill-building — essential to position our participants for success in the hiring process and in employment. But without a computer and at-home access to high-speed internet, it’s hard for low-income career seekers to even get started.
That’s where our partnership with PCs for People comes in.
Since early 2020, CWEE has sustained an enormous, ongoing effort to get each CWEE career seeker set up with a laptop and at-home internet service. The organization shifted internal resources, established an emergency technology fund, and engaged new partners and supporters to ensure we could respond quickly to the tech-related needs of our career seekers.
PCs for People has been a critical partner to CWEE in these efforts, helping us to ensure that every CWEE career seeker has at-home access to essential technology.
Since March of 2020, CWEE has distributed 391 laptops to career seekers, 233 of which were refurbished by PCs for People and another 146 that were purchased with PCs for People’s intermediary support.
“The model of PCs for people is to collect and recycle computer equipment from businesses, government, and corporations and refurbish it on-site so it can be redistributed to low-income families, as well as schools and nonprofits,” said Caitlin Nelson, community impact manager.
“Our goal is to bridge the digital divide by making technology accessible. It’s so necessary to function in today’s world, but it’s also expensive. Electronic equipment can go into a landfill — or it can be taken apart, recycled and repurposed to have a second life.”
In workforce development, it’s common to hear training organizations and employers alike underscore the importance of “soft skills”, also known as foundational or essential skills — those uniquely human traits that all jobs require. Communication, teamwork, conflict management — and using technology to accomplish tasks — are examples of essential skills.
CWEE Basics, our intensive digital literacy program, focuses on digital learning and other essential skills, which is paired with individual coaching and career support. In collaboration with CWEE trainers and coaches, and thanks to partners including PCs for People, CWEE career seekers can learn and apply technology skills that are critical for success on the job and in life.
It takes the entire community to build an equitable employment ecosystem. CWEE is grateful to PCs for People and our other partners for playing such an essential role in building the capacity of disadvantaged workers to compete and succeed as the labor market continues to change.
For much of CWEE’s 40-year history, we have honored individuals and partners for their exceptional contributions to our mission with the annual Silver Flame award. Silver Flame winners embrace CWEE’s mission and go above and beyond to support our career seekers and activities.
In 2021, we are pleased to recognize these additional winners: