LGBT Tech & Charter Communications Celebrate Pride & Bridging the LGBTQ+ Digital Divide
Updated: Jul 11
On June 29th, LGBT Tech and Charter Communications attended a Stonewall Pride Bash for its LGBTQ+ elder residents hosted by SAGE. SAGE is a non-profit organization that advocates and supports LGBTQ+ elders nationwide through policy research, outreach, coalitions, and many other programs. SAGE also provides housing, education and training, and counseling to LGBTQ+ elders.
SAGE is a partner center of LGBT Tech's PowerOn initiative. PowerOn has equipped SAGE residents with three computer labs in their National LGBTQ+ Housing Initiative, one of which was the Stonewall House in Brooklyn, where this event took place.
(One of the computers in the Cyber Center on the ground floor of the Stonewall House)
At the event, Charter Communications presented LGBT Tech with a $30,000 check which supports LGBT Tech's PowerOn program. This grant is part of Charter Communications' Spectrum Digital Education program. The program is a 5-year, $7 million initiative that provides grants for digital literacy education. Speakers at the Stonewall Pride Bash included: Chris Wood, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of LGBT Tech; MJ Okma, the Senior Manager of Advocacy and Government Relations for SAGE and Karrin Smoley, the Senior Director of Community Impact for Charter.
(A group shot of those in attendance with the Spectrum check)
"I want to truly thank SAGE for applying and for taking a chance on PowerOn. We really strive to serve our partner centers to the highest and best of our ability. SAGE represents our largest investment made into any one particular organization and I'm really glad that it's here, in NY in an area where it's really needed. I'm also very thankful to Charter Communications and Spectrum because without your partnership, these types of investments wouldn't be possible. This type of grassroots change wouldn't be possible," Chris Wood of LGBT Tech said. "To date we have donated over $253,000 over the past 6 years and that is continuing to grow, we are continuing to look at different opportunities to invest in things like VR and XR, places where individuals can really connect and feel like they're next to somebody and feel like they're interacting with somebody and create environments where they can be their authentic selves, even in an environment where it's not safe for them to do so."
"SAGE made history in 2020 and 2021 when along with our developer partners we opened New York's first LGBTQ+ welcoming affordable housing developments and they are right here in Brooklyn, the Stonewall House, and the other one is in the Bronx, the Crotona Pride House," said MJ Okma of SAGE.
"SAGE is the onsite service provider at those two historic developments, and each of those has a ground floor Sage center. With the support and partnership with PowerOn technology, we provide tech classes in our cyber centers in both of the ground floor SAGE centers. These classes provide LGBTQ+ elders with lessons on understanding computer fundamentals, using email accounts, and navigating the internet, all of which have gotten increasingly important as more services, commerce, and social connection has moved online during the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic."
On the importance of bridging the digital divide, Okma said, "Internet access and tech literacy are powerful tools to help LGBTQ+ elders stay connected as it directly combats social isolation, which unaddressed can lead to depression and other health disparities. Social isolation can be difficult to overcome because there can be few opportunities to socialize in both an age-friendly and LGBTQ+ specific environment. So, the SAGE centers help fill that role, but our impact can be even greater when combined with tech literacy and broadband access, which opens the door to virtual interactions and community. Technology is a powerful tool, and it can help reduce social isolation and improve access to healthcare and social services but only if you know how to use it."
Karrin Smoley of Charter spoke on their vision for focusing on digital literacy education and other initiatives the company has in place, "As a Fortune 100 company, we believe that we have an obligation to give to the communities in which our employees and customers both live and work. For us, giving back is just part of who we are as a company. We have four very strong initiatives and one of them is Spectrum Digital Education, which is where the funding for this initiative came from. We are just wrapping up year five of Spectrum Digital Education, from last year we were able to grant LGBT Tech $30,000 and we have additional funding that will be available."
"Being in NYC, it is really important to us that we are in such a diverse and large market and it's important that the initiatives and the support that we give represent the community that we serve."
To learn more about SAGE and the amazing work they do for LGBTQ+ elders around the nation, visit their website.
To read more about LGBT Tech's PowerOn initiative, visit our website.
(A sign outside of the SAGE Center that reads "Stonewall House, An LGBTQ-Friendly Community.")
(A shot of the SAGE computer lab that was provided by PowerOn)
(Chris Wood, LGBT Tech's Executive Director and Co-Founder speaking at the event.)