By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
Twitter: @ kdonog
PROVIDENCE – Broadband Rhode Island, an initiative of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation to lessen the digital divide, announced the contract winners for its digital literacy and online business e-incubator programs.
Its digital literacy community mobilization program, which will train library staff how to help the public access the Internet, was awarded to New Commons with the cost of the pilot project estimated as $111,000 of the total $350,000 funding.
New Commons is charged with identifying and training instructors, identifying potential training delivery facilities as well as potential community development partners. The training program’s curriculum and framework is being developed separately by Pablo Sandoval of BBRI.
“We are looking at all of the pieces we need to get our pilot program off the ground next month,” said Stuart Freiman, manager of BBRI. The first step, the “train the trainers” session will take place on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5; there will be about 16 library staff trained.
The Providence Housing Authority, the OIC, Providence Community Library and Cranston Public Library are participating in the pilot program.
The “train the public” part of the program will take place later in the month; there will be four, 2-hour sessions once a week.
BBRI’s online business e-incubator project contract was awarded to Social Venture Partners Rhode Island and RPM; its startup costs are allotted $150,000 and the contract ends in December 2012.
“We’re taking that idea of the bricks and mortar incubator…and creating a virtual incubator,” said Alisson Walsh, broadband communications and outreach manager.
It aims to help small businesses or people that may not have access to resources, time or skill set to help them set up a Web presence.
SVPRI and RPM are going to set up the site, methodology and recruit the first pilot users. The product they develop, ideally, will be able to be used beyond the term of the project, Freiman said, noting that the questions of longer-term funding, business model, etc., are being reserved for after the finish of the pilot project.
“There’s a lot of synergy [between the two projects],” Walsh noted.