Conscious Connect celebrates Digital Inclusion Week

(l-r) at Conscious Connect event: Daynise Joseph, Community Impact Manager for Google Fiber Nashville ; Jarrett Strickland, Associate, UBS Wealth Planning ; LaDonna Boyd, President / CEO and Chairman of R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. ; Fallon Wilson, American Baptist College assistant VP of institutional advancement and strategic partnerships ; Isaac Yao Addae, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship & Strategy, Tennessee State University College of Business ; and Ashley Lawal, founder and creator of Urbaanite. (photo by Cass Teague)

The fight for digital equity and inclusion is being led by several Nashville influencers, among them Black In Tech Nashville, Urbaanite, Google Fiber Nashville and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. Nashville’s innovative Conscious Conversation series brought these thought leaders together to celebrate the great work being done to empower African Americans in the digital realm and to network and socialize with other local influencers in the Nashville digital inclusion community. The event, held Friday, May 11, at the Google Fiber Nashville Space on Division Street was called “Conscious Connect: A Social Celebration of Digital Inclusion.”

Led by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the 2018 Digital Inclusion Week was celebrated from May 7 through 11. Many individuals and organizations in Nashville are working to ensure the local community is digitally inclusive. The goal is to get ALL people tech-savvy. Digital Inclusion Week is a nationwide effort aimed at raising awareness for both digital inequities and the ongoing efforts by organizations and trailblazers to bridge the gaps.

“Digital inclusion is a critical issue impacting communities of color around the globe,” said Isaac Yao Addae, creator of the Conscious Conversation community discussion series. “We hosted the Conscious Connect event to celebrate Digital Inclusion Week and to shed light on the importance of all communities gaining access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).”

Many individuals and organizations in Nashville are working to ensure the local community is digitally inclusive. The event followed a week of activity nationwide. The blossoming of the Internet and the rapid change that has ensued is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The need for and benefits of STEAM training are many.

“Google Fiber was excited to host the students in our office for a tour and to talk about STEM and STEM careers.” said Daynise Joseph, Community Impact Manager for Google Fiber Nashville. In the U.S. economy today, there are millions of STEM-related jobs that go unfilled due to the large shortage of skilled American workers. Additionally, there are many middle-skilled technology jobs that don’t require a college degree but still provide strong wages.

Conscious Conversation is a community discussion series focused on galvanizing the general public around issues of community and economic development in metropolitan communities. Their efforts are concentrated in three main areas: Connect, Converse, and Create! The Conscious Conversations Team includes Isaac Addae, Assistant Professor, Tennessee State University; Jarrett Strickland, Associate, UBS Wealth Planning; Meryl Johnson, VP Digital Marketing, Annapurna Pictures; Montez Mickles, Photography and Videography; Fallon Wilson, American Baptist College assistant VP of institutional advancement and strategic partnerships; and Ashley Lawal, founder and creator of Urbaanite.

“This is the second event Concious Conversations has hosted regarding digital inclusion, the previous event happened in 2017, says Jarrett Strickland. “Our hope is to continue to highlight the issue while connecting stakeholders, non-profits and impacted communities.

“Black in Tech Nashville supported the event as a community partner. As an alliance of tech professionals, entreprenuers and public interest technologist; Black in Tech supports efforts to increase digital inclusion in both the private and public sector. Through partnerships with Google Fiber, the Mayor’s office and State legislature, we are working to increase awareness, funding and create action that benefits impacted communities.”

Expectations are for the next Black In Tech event to be hosted May 31st. Follow the Black in Tech Nashville Facebook page for details.