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Top 5 Reasons To Become a Digital Literacy Instructor with CTEP AmeriCorps

May 11, 2018

We think that becoming an AmeriCorps digital literacy instructor with the Community Technology Empowerment Project is an awesome way for young people to get involved with digital inclusion efforts and create change in our communities. Our varied positions place members in dynamic positions in nonprofits, libraries and employment centers all over the Twin Cities; our cohort experience creates a tight-knit supportive community; and our civic engagement projects allow members to bring their skills and interests to our program. But don’t take it from us, take it from our former AmeriCorps members!

Check out what they have what they have to say and then apply to the program and help spread the word!   

1)  Make a huge impact on others &expand your world view

Most members say the highlight of doing a year of the CTEP AmeriCorps program is the sense of satisfaction they get out of making a huge impact on people’s lives. Members often reflect that their year in CTEP helps them understand the importance of digital literacy training and how digital inclusion connects to larger societal inequities.

"The most rewarding parts of my service are the moments in my computer classes when someone who was previously uncertain about computers begins to get excited about technology, or when someone tells me they received a job because of our work together and to see how excited they are about it. This feels like I'm really making a difference.” --Laura Wondra, Arlington Hills Community Center.

 “The most meaningful part of my year was the relationships I built with participants, that is people who came to our open technology labs and computer classes. The personal connections allowed me to see the participants' challenges from their perspective and empathize with their situations. I became invested in the participants' successes and defeats and frustrated by their barriers. Through relationships with a wide range of people I really expanded my worldview.” --Ted Klimek, Project for Pride in Living.

2) Learn A LOT about digital inclusion and become an advocate

Most people who come to our program are not digital inclusion experts, but they learn a lot about this topic from the CTEP community and folks like the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, who have helped establish some terms for digital inclusion newbies. By the end of the year you’ll make a contribution towards achieving digital equity—that is, making sure everyone has equal access to technology by addressing intersections of technology, education, class, race, housing and geography, and resource allocation.

“I want policy makers to know that the digital divide is STILL a thing. I think some people are under the impression that if they stick a library or access lab in a low-income neighborhood it completely fixes the digital divide. We in CTEP know, it doesn't.  It takes education and training and confidence building.” –Rachel Hoyles, Project for Pride in Living.

3) You get access to professional development & training 

Our group of 35 CTEP AmeriCorps members meets twice a month for leadership and professional development trainings focused on digital inclusion, cross-cultural competency, program and volunteer management, and non-profit administration. We also take one retreat in the fall and one in the spring to help members build community. CTEP is a relatively small AmeriCorps program, which means that you will get to know and support your fellow cohort throughout the year and have an automatic network. Members have an opportunity to shape the CTEP program, give input, lead sessions, and make it their own.

"I cannot speak enough to the skills and experience I have gained as a CTEP. I was so confident going into interviews and applying for jobs after CTEP because I have really learned so much. CTEP has offered me the chance to develop professionally in so many ways and I could not be more thankful." –Kayla Norman, Minnesota Literacy Council.

4) Get exposure to the Twin Cities and hone your leadership style

Members get to travel to roughly half of CTEP's host sites throughout the Twin Cities. Each training day takes place at a different location where we learn about a particular organization and neighborhood. You will have the chance to reflect on the relationships you build at your site, as well as what you are observing about digital inclusion at the individual, community and policy levels.

We also want you to be creative and develop your personal leadership style in CTEP. Each year members do additional civic engagement projects outside their host site. Members work with each other in small groups to address problems and provide solutions related to digital inclusion. Learn more about previous civic engagement projects, which allow members to be collaborative and creative in leveraging community assets.

"I don't believe in leaders in the traditional sense. I think leaders are people who decide to invest in other people. I learned not only to invest in myself and the people around me, but also the community around me. There’s an empowerment aspect for us as well…we’re being given the tools to explore new things, to really grow and develop. --Anthony Nget, Sun Ray Library (Watch Video)

Through CTEP I began to see how important non-profits and community based organizations are to a community. In our service year we got to see some of the struggles in the community around us, but we as CTEP members we were also able to achieve something that would improve the life of another person.” --Maya Hanson, Rice Street Library.

5) Hone your tech teaching skills  
You don’t need to be a computer expert to join CTEP, but you do need to have a passion for teaching. While some members do teach skills like music and media production or website and graphic design, most members teach basic skills like introducing someone to the internet for the first time, or helping someone edit a resume in Word. Technology is simply a tool to help someone achieve a life goal such as getting a better job or moving forward with their education.

Our CTEP graduates go onto every kind of career, including social work, education, public health, law and public policy. If you have ever helped a friend, colleague or family member with how to use a computer, tablet or cell phone then maybe you could be a great technology instructor. We seek people with tutoring or teaching backgrounds, experience working across cultures, and those who see themselves as current or future changemakers.

And one more bonus reason! 

Enjoy the long-term financial benefits of doing national service

You don’t have to go hungry to join AmeriCorps! Members receive a living stipend, a health care option, and a $5,975 educational award upon completion of service. We will support you throughout the year, give budgeting tips, and will help you navigate public assistance. And if you have public student loans of more than $20,000 you seriously have to find out how doing AmeriCorps can help you pay down your student debt through Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The combination of PSLF and the education award can act as forced savings plan that allows you to pay down debt much faster than you would in an entry level job.

AmeriCorps Members serve full-time for a year in a community technology center located within libraries, immigrant services organizations, employment centers, museums or media centers in the Twin Cities.  See our full list of positions descriptions and then apply to become a CTEP AmeriCorps member.