Urban study shows need for tech training
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jan 16, 2001
More than half of low- to moderate-income, inner-city adults know little
or nothing about the Internet, but an overwhelming majority of them have
a desire to learn, according to a study of five urban areas.
The study, released Jan. 15, questioned 1,600 adults in Newark, N.J.;
Hartford, Conn.; Brooklyn and Harlem, N.Y.; and Boston during October and
November last year. The survey's sponsor will use the results in developing
a plan to help adults in those urban areas become more computer literate.
Of the 1,600 adults surveyed, 752 had an annual household income less
than $40,000. The study found that 77 percent of those with an income greater
than $40,000 use a computer at home and 61 percent are comfortable being
Other major findings were:
* The number of respondents who said they knew little or nothing about
the Internet varied widely between cities, from the lowest in Boston (45
percent) to the highest in Newark (69 percent)
* Among adults who earn less than $40,000 and have less than a high
school education, 70 percent didn't have a computer; among adults with a
college degree, it was 40 percent.
* Almost one in two families without a computer said they could not
afford one. Affordability was found to be a problem in African American
households (64 percent didn't own a computer) and Hispanic households (55
* 80 percent of those unfamiliar with the Internet said they likely
would participate in training if given a free computer and Internet access.
The study was commissioned by FleetBoston Financial Foundation and conducted
by the independent University of Massachusetts Poll. The foundation is part
of FleetBoston Financial Corp., the county's eighth-largest financial holding
Sean Stanton, FleetBoston's senior vice president of e-commerce and
strategic planning, said the findings would help the company develop its
CommunityLink project, a business model to help adults in urban areas become
more computer, Internet and finance literate. FleetBoston primarily serves
customers in the Northeast.
The company would start prototype projects in two neighborhoods in Newark
and Boston, Stanton said. It would help provide computers, Internet access
and training to people in those communities who are FleetBoston customers.
The project also would team with local community organizations to provide
training to anyone who wants it and help develop neighborhood Web sites,
"We'll be the catalyst to develop neighborhood portals. Or if there
is a neighborhood portal, we'll be there to strengthen it," Stanton said.
He said other financial institutions are addressing the digital divide
through schools, but he believes FleetBoston is the only one to focus on