Learn2Earn Pilot Program

Four women smile as they stand next to Learn To Earn pilot program graduate smiling with her brand new laptop

The City of Charlotte is committed to digital inclusion as part of its work on upward mobility. During the February 2023 presentation to City Council, staff outlined a multi-phased approach to reducing the digital inclusion gap in Charlotte. In partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and the Center for Digital Equity, the free Learn2Earn program pilot was developed to offer residents an opportunity to earn a new device while developing job-related skills.

Individuals who demonstrated completion of eight free courses offered at the library given a new, 3-year factory-warranted, full-functioning, high-quality computer, sufficient to meet a wide array of goals. These trainings are selected to build confidence, improve self-sufficiency, and connect efforts around digital literacy to resources and skills that could result in better paying jobs. 


Residents Earn Computer, Develop Job Skills Through Digital Inclusion Program - Transcript

“This program has just opened…it opened my eyes. It’s like my wasabi.”

For these 20 residents, basic computer skills were something they all struggled with.

“I didn’t know nothing about excel. For example, I knew the basic ones like word, PowerPoint and those stuff but excel was the most important one for me that I didn’t know.”

“My initial fear was if I press the wrong button something will irrevocably go wrong.”

“I’m 73 so I’ve been out of the workforce for a while, but I don’t want to be left out.”

But the City of Charlotte, The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and the Center for Digital Equity partnered together to launch a pilot program called Learn2Earn.

“They learned about Microsoft Excel, internet basics, email basics, computer basics, and they took these courses and got certificates at the end. They also took a resume writing and career advice and support coaching class as well.”

Over the span of seven weeks, these residents grew their computer skills and knowledge at the Hickory Grove Library.

“When It came to the resume that was my biggest pleasure because the resume help me be able to reflect the interview.”

“I’m much more confident. In fact, I can help other people. In fact, I helped my grandson and he was like wow grandma you’ve come into the millennium (laughing).”

“It’s humbled me that there’s so much knowledge out there and it’s made me really excited to use computers now.”

Nats- students receiving certificates

At the end of the program, residents graduated not only walking away with new skills but also brand-new laptops.

“If you only take the class and you don’t have a device to use at home you’re going to lose a lot of those skills that you’ve already gained through the class and it’s important that folks really have that opportunity to continue to build their skills and that they now have access to all these resources that the library offers, that the city offers, that partners across Charlotte offer so that they can continue their learning.”

“Coming into this I didn’t know I’d get a laptop so it’s really icing on the cake.”

Learn2Earn has helped these residents improve their self-sufficiency and confidence with computers...

Nats- students receiving certificates

And it’s a program many say they are glad they were able to take and now share with others.

“What I come away with is the ability to expedite ways of doing things and to teach others. If I come across someone who’s also been in the situation that I was in, I now have a teaching platform to teach what I never thought I could have taught.”

Will this program be offered again?

This is a pilot effort through the City of Charlotte, funded with a grant and done in partnership with multiple organizations. While the hope is to offer this program in other parts of Charlotte in the future, due to funding, that is not guaranteed at this time.

The City of Charlotte is open and actively looking for organizations that would like to partner with city leadership to provide additional technological resources and education to residents.

To help us improve this program and find more community partners please provide feedback by taking the survey.

Learn2Earn Pilot Funding

On June 20, 2023, over 5,000 households were given access to free gigabit-speed internet in their homes through ARPA funding approved by the City Council. The Council also approved ARPA and CARES funding for Digital Navigation services which provide needed internet adoption support through marketing, engagement, basic tech support, enrollment support, and referral to other digital and tech services.

The Learn2Earn program pilot is supported by these funds to help residents build foundational skills around digital capacity through coupling computer devices and digital literacy.

What if I did not participate or finish the courses in the pilot program but still need a device?

Due to funding the pilot program service area is limited at this time. However, Digital Navigators with the Center for Digital Equity (CDE) may be able to help connect you with services and device distributions in other areas of the city. To connect with the CDE, dial 311 and ask to speak with a Digital Navigator.


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