April 30, 2024/News Updates

Cleveland Clinic, DigitalC Collaborate to Launch Free Computer Literacy Training Course for Seniors

Initiative aims to improve digital access and inclusion for older adults in the city of Cleveland

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With technology becoming more essential to everyday life, many older adults are vulnerable to being isolated by the digital divide. According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data, Cleveland stands out as the worst-connected city in the U.S., with more than 100,000 households lacking reliable broadband service.

Through a collaborative effort between Cleveland Clinic and DigitalC, local seniors are acquiring the knowledge and technology to stay connected. The community partners piloted a program in 2023 to provide free computer literacy training to residents aged 60 and over.

As part of the program, DigitalC facilitated an eight-week course at Cleveland Clinic’s Langston Hughes Community Health and Education Center in Cleveland. Topics included basic laptop operation and safe internet browsing.

After completing the class, participants were given the laptops they used during training, which helps expand their digital literacy beyond the classroom. To date, the program has completed three cohorts with over 30 participants.

Carol Revels, 75, a retired State of Ohio employee, was one of 10 participants in the most recent cohort. For Revels, the computer training helped to equip her with the knowledge to safeguard herself against online scams, a prevalent threat against seniors.

According to the National Council on Aging, computer tech support scams are among the most common types of financial fraud targeting older adults. In 2022, more than 88,000 Americans aged 60 and over reported falling victim to financial scams, resulting in $3.1 billion in losses, according to the latest FBI Elder Fraud Report.

"I learned to be aware of misspellings within words, to be cautious of unfamiliar links, and to look for the little lock symbol and 'HTTPS' in the website address," Revels said. "These are small details, but they make a big difference in staying safe online."

Revels discovered the computer class through her sister, who also attends with her. Beyond the educational benefits, both Revels and her sister take advantage of the community gym at the Langston Hughes Community Health Center and participate in health challenges there.

“Digital access plays a vital role in the overall health and well-being of a community’s residents. It affects an individual’s access to education, health information, care, employment and economic opportunities,” said Vickie Eaton Johnson, Senior Vice-President and Chief Community Officer at Cleveland Clinic. “We are grateful to collaborate with DigitalC to offer a program that connects our neighbors with the skills and devices they need to thrive in the ever-evolving digital world.”

The computer literacy class builds on the work that Cleveland Clinic and DigitalC have done to address systemic disparities in digital access. In 2020, the organizations, along with TransDigm Group Inc. and The Lubrizol Foundation, collaborated to bring broadband service to the Fairfax neighborhood. The project successfully connected over 160 families to high-speed internet.

"As the only internet service provider headquartered in Cleveland, DigitalC is dedicated to improving digital access and skills for our seniors," said Joshua Edmonds, Chief Executive Officer at DigitalC. "Through this significant partnership with Cleveland Clinic, we are empowering Fairfax seniors to connect, access vital resources, and enhance their sense of community through technology."

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