Guest Insights | Closing the Digital Divide

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Thanks to a Digital Equity Grant from the City of Colorado Springs, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado will be one of seven grantees who are embarking on a digital equity project. Set to launch on August 31st at Hillside Community Center, our Digital Equity Program (DEP) aims to close the digital divide in our community, focusing on southeast Colorado Springs. 

What is the digital divide? 

According to the National Digitial Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), the digital divide is the gap between those who have access to affordable internet, key computer skills, and support needed to engage online, and those who do not.  

In Colorado, an estimated 77+% of job openings require digital skills and over 65,000 unemployed individuals lack foundational skills (NDIA). This divide gets wider when we look at marginalized communities, especially through the lens of race. The National Skills Coalition (2020) found that over one-third of Asian Americans, more than half of Latine folks, and half of Black folks have either no or limited digital skills. 

When we look at the numbers for southeast Colorado Springs, the Gazette reported in 2017 that 39% of the city’s Latine population and 49% of the Black population live in southeast Colorado Springs. Additionally, the overall poverty rate for the southeast was 21% compared to 13.4% in all of Colorado Springs.  

How does digital equity look and how we’re going to get there? 

The Digital Equity Program at Catholic Charities hopes that our digital inclusion efforts will lead to digital equity – the condition where all individuals and communities have the digital technology needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy (NDIA). Our work will focus on increasing individuals’ basic computer and internet skills, basic word processing, and email use to increase access to internet-connected devices in order to have access to digital ways of accessing employment, housing, financial assistance, and benefits. Our traveling Chromebooks and computer labs at partnering locations will help us provide one-on-one technical support, workshops, and courses for the community. We are excited to launch with five confirmed community partners on our launch date. 

To learn more about Digital Equity, visit NDIA – National Digital Inclusion Alliance.

To learn more about American Workers’ Digital Skills, click here.


“How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s good, and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” 1 Jn 3:17

Imagine a child’s bedroom. Maybe it belongs to your children or grandchildren. Maybe it is the room that was yours when you were young. What do you picture? Perhaps there is a small bookcase with picture books? Maybe there is a doll house in the corner or firetrucks and trains on a shelf. Is there a lamp glowing soft yellow light? Stuffed animals? Do you see a bed with cartoon sheets and a big pillow where a little head sleeps?

Now imagine a child who has no bedroom. A little boy or girl who has never had a place where their toys go, or their own bed with cartoon sheets. Imagine a child who falls asleep in a car one night and a shelter the next night.
No child should have to live that way.

Last December, Catholic Charities made a significant investment in making bedrooms a reality for children experiencing homelessness in Colorado Springs. The $3.8 million purchase of the Helen Hunt Campus in the Hillside Neighborhood was the first step in the agency’s commitment to ending family homelessness throughout the communities we serve. The second step was to raise $5.2 million more to renovate the 1901 school building into 24 units of transitional housing.

More than apartment units, this vision is to create a home in a neighborhood for parents and children. The Helen Hunt Campus sits on 2.8 acres in the middle of a beautiful and historic community. Lined with ash trees and lush lawns with a magnificent playground on one corner and the quaint Switchback Hillside café on the other, it feels like a sanctuary. It is an ideal place for families who have experienced the trauma of homelessness to heal and build stability.

The project has been propelled by the support of generous donors and foundations who also saw the need and invested in the vision. In June, Hunt Family Housing came one step closer to realization when the Colorado Department of Housing awarded a $4.4 million grant for the project. That commitment, combined with individual and foundation pledges, has cleared the way to move forward on construction, which we hope to start sometime in the next nine months. Bedrooms will be ready in early 2025.

This housing cannot come too soon. Identifying the number of homeless families is difficult but we know there are at least 100 families who are currently living in shelters, cars, and motels. We also know that the Salvation Army’s new Family Hope Center, a 31-unit, non-congregant, shelter for families that opened in May is already full and operating with a waitlist. Dignity Commons, a new permanent supportive housing project for families operated by Homeward Pikes Peak opened at the end of April and it too, is full.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis writes: “The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for mankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond with all her might.” Children forced into homelessness is one of the great injustices of our present day. With your support, Catholic Charities is building a mighty response with Hunt Family Housing, because every child deserves a bed of their own.