Jake Jacobson, Colby Jones, Sloane Simmons and Casey Simmons mingle at the Philanthropy Awards Luncheon.

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Local Digital Inclusion Pioneer Moving to HUD in DC

November 30, 2015

On July 15, 2015, President Obama announced ConnectHome, an initiative to bring high-speed broadband access to over 275,000 low-income households across the US. The pilot program has launched in 27 cities including New York, Boston and Seattle, as well as the Choctaw Tribal Nation in Oklahoma. The program, managed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, is part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to extend the reach of the Internet to all Americans, especially society’s most vulnerable.

Learn more at http://connecthome.hud.gov

HUD recently appointed an experienced practitioner in the field of broadband adoption to manage ConnectHome. Michael Liimatta is co-founder and CEO of Connecting for Good, a Kansas City, Kan. based nonprofit organization. It was established in response to the announcement that Kansas City would be the first city to receive the gigabit fiber service, Google Fiber. 

Liimatta and his colleagues secured public and foundation support to make ensure that those living in low income, primarily minority areas were not ignored. Since 2011, Connecting for Good has brought connectivity and computer education to thousands of KC area under resourced inner city residents using wireless Internet, community computer centers, low cost refurbished PCs and free digital life skills classes.

A self-professed social entrepreneur, Liimatta has lead initiatives in the nonprofit sector and online higher education for over thirty years, including two other Kansas City-based institutions, City Vision University, which he created in 1998 and Footprints/Heroes Home, a VA funded shelter for homeless veterans.

I believe broadband connectivity is absolutely essential in order to function and get ahead in our digital age,” said Liimatta. “A very large percentage of families on the wrong side of the Digital Divide reside in public housing. The public-private partnership of ConnectHome will provide a much needed boost toward academic and career success by ensuring that children who live in these facilities have equal access to online resources.”