November 20, 2008 By Emily Montandon, Associate Editor
Home-based Internet access grew steadily in recent years for most of the U.S. population, but adoption stagnated among minorities and the economically disadvantaged.
Fewer than a quarter of households earning less than $20,000 annually have broadband Internet access, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Internet Project. Broadband penetration grew just 12 percent in this income bracket since 2005, according to the surveys.
By contrast, broadband penetration grew by more than 20 percent in every other income bracket. It's often argued that citizens who lack access to technology will be left behind in a society in which computer skills - especially the ability to navigate the Internet - are necessary for jobs, shopping and interacting with government.
Enter the Make It-Take It program, a project of the Florida Institute for the Study of Digital Inclusion. Make It-Take It is designed to give underprivileged children access to technology, computers and related skills. Aside from the long-term benefits of technology literacy, the program teaches skills that could lead students twoard tech-oriented careers.
Using donated and disassembled equipment, the Make It-Take It program teaches children how to build their own computer, load the operating system and install antivirus software. When the course is finished, students take the computers home, and most of them receive complimentary home Internet access for one year.
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