Throughout my career, relationships and life, my mission is to connect people with resources to turn their vision into reality. My name is Kelsey Davis. I am a creator, I am an entrepreneur, and in everything I do, I strive to serve others as a bridge.
Last month, I had the opportunity to travel across America with AT&T to learn more about the digital divide, which results in three in 10 Americans not having access to the information they need to thrive. During this campaign I witnessed firsthand the impact that can be created for the world when people are offered a “bridge to possibility”.
So, from the farmlands of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, to the metroplex of Dallas, Texas, we hit the road to meet the many faces and communities impacted by this divide. And, we even had some fun along the way by surprising those in need with laptop devices.
We started in a rural town outside of Evansville, Indiana, where we spent the day at McCutchanville Elementary School. I spoke with the school’s principal, learned more about how her students were being put at a disadvantage due to a lack of access to technology, like not having internet connectivity to complete their homework or participate in online learning. I even talked to a teacher who drove to the end of her street to connect to the internet and teach her class virtually.
Next, we headed over to Family Gateway in Dallas, a non-profit helping to place families in affordable housing, and where AT&T’s first Connected Learning Center is located. I had the privilege of meeting Family Gateway’s chief development officer, Ruthie Umberger, who introduced me to mothers and children – all in need of a special place to call home. Here, is where I heard the stories about how crucial access and affordability are to helping families look for job opportunities and childcare resources to help them start a new chapter.
Access to the internet and technology is a rightful necessity not only for survival, but also success. Visiting Vanderburgh County and Dallas, we experienced the burdens of how rapidly life can change with this introduction of newfound access to education and information.
Our next stop was Houston, where I spoke with faculty and students at Texas Southern University, one of the nation’s largest HBCUs. We spoke about how a lack of reliable internet and adequate resources, like owning a large screen device, was inhibiting students from thriving academically. A student said she was having a stressful time writing essays on her phone. When we surprised her with a laptop, she was grateful to have a larger device as she works toward her goal to graduate this December.
After a nearly decade-long freelance career, I founded CLLCTVE, a software company with a goal of connecting people to the resources they need to create a portfolio, apply to paid gigs and collaborate with other freelancers, but all of that is done in vain if they don’t have the proper hardware technology and a reliable internet connection to actually benefit from our product. So, personally, for me, it was incredible to see students’ responses to receiving the technology they need to connect digitally.
And at our last stop, we were reminded that we can’t bridge the digital divide without providing the digital literacy resources needed to adopt the internet. During my visit at CitySquare, a non-profit working to fight poverty, they hosted a free bilingual digital literacy workshop in Spanish. Basic tasks you and I may take for granted, like scheduling a telehealth appointment or ordering groceries online, need to also be taught to everyone without a language barrier.
My list could go on of the many stories and challenges learned from these incredible individuals. But they are just a few of the millions of faces and names impacted by the digital divide.
At CLLCTVE, we believe that every human is a creator, and this journey allowed me to reflect on the importance of my own professional work and the continued focus on creating equity and accessibility for creators everywhere.
I recently moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, home to Black Wall Street — a city blooming with creativity, entrepreneurship and possibility, and I firmly believe when given access to basic resources, we’re empowered to turn our creativity into a career. The bridge of connectivity is the key to allowing all Americans to self-actualize their biggest, brightest aspirations. And for that, I’m proud to have worked alongside AT&T to bring us all a bit closer to that reality.
I invite you to take a look at the snapshot of our journey here: