Blog // Connect South Carolina

Fast Forward: Meeting the Technological Needs of South Carolina Residents

By CSC Staff

Connect South Carolina is working to identify community anchor institutions who play a pivotal role by providing broadband access to the general public including vulnerable populations such as low-income, unemployed, aged, children, minorities and people with disabilities. Here is one group’s story.

Since 1999, 11,000 South Carolinians have come to Fast Forward for assistance with their technological challenges. Some are taking advantage of computers for school assignments while others are completing technology certifications and looking for jobs. To meet those needs, the volunteers of Fast Forward, a Columbia, South Carolina nonprofit, are ready to help those who have been underserved through traditional programs.

“Fast Forward is about connections and helping people,” said Fast Forward Executive Director Dee Albritton. “I’ve seen people’s lives transformed.”

Albritton mentioned multiple examples of individuals whose lives have changed because of Fast Forward. Lucy volunteered at Fast Forward while she was in high school. After graduation, Lucy went on to college and later the Peace Corps where she started a community technology center in Namibia.

Another beneficiary was Jesse, who was living in her car when she first came to Fast Forward for help. Fast Forward helped her achieve technology certificates, learn life skills, and eventually obtain a job at a local grocery store. Jesse is now taking advantage of Fast Forward’s technology to search for a home.

Fast Forward also opened its doors to a local student working his way through high school and college without a computer at home. Fast Forward was where he went to complete his homework assignments.

Fast Forward also uses technology to teach community residents at the Babcock Center which serves adults with lifelong disabilities. Twice a week participants and program leaders come to Fast Forward to use technology to provide training on life skills. Also, Fast Forward is using technology to teach at-risk students geography, digital photography, robotics, nutrition, and many other creative classes. Creative classes include learning how to create cities using Google sketch and make music videos for local bands.

According to Albritton “there are technology jobs available, but people aren’t qualified for them.” Fast Forward is working to prepare people for these jobs.

Fast Forward is open to everyone. Class participants set up e-mail accounts that allow them to save their cover letters, resumes, thank-you letters, and class resources so that they can have access to Fast Forward tools if they move or relocate due to a job opportunity.

“Instead of teaching technology, we’re using technology to teach,” Albritton said.


 

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