Building Gigabit Hive Communities in Kansas City and Chattanooga

Earlier this month, we launched the Gigabit Community Fund in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Kansas City.   In both cities, the Fund will support a growing Hive community of teachers, informal educators, nonprofit leaders, and technologists engaged in building new, connected learning experiences with immediate community impact.  It will help turn these two communities with some of the fastest connection speeds in the country into “living laboratories” in which to study how advanced networking can support teachers, improve student learning outcomes, and break down barriers between formal and informal educational environments.

Chris Lawrence, Senior Director of the Mozilla Webmaker Community, kicks off the Kansas City Event.

Chris Lawrence, Senior Director of the Mozilla Webmaker Community, kicks off the Kansas City event.
Photo: Kari Keefe

Appropriately, both launch events took place in public libraries – community institutions that have long connected formal and informal learning spheres.  Along with the National Science FoundationUS Ignite, and the Department of Education, the Chattanooga Public Library and the Kansas City Public Library were critical event partners, helping draw more than 200 participants in each city.

The mayors of each metropolitan region also rallied to make these launch events successful.  In Chattanooga, City Mayor Andy Berke and County Mayor Jim Coppinger spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about realizing the potential of the Gig City’s next-gen network for education and workforce development. In Kansas City, KC Missouri Mayor Sly James and KC Kansas Mayor Mark Holland addressed the public benefit of gigabit applications and emphasized the need for action now to sustain their city’s unique position in helping to lead gigabit development.

Chattanooga facilitator DJ Trischler leads the afternoon brainstorming session.
Photo: Mary Barnett / Chattanooga Public Library

After a morning of speakers and panels focused on the national opportunities created by next-gen networks, the afternoon sessions at both launch events turned to mapping specific community challenges in education and workforce development that the Gigabit Community Fund and a broader Gigabit Hive could begin to tackle. Once divided into six interest-area tracks such as digital inclusion and K-12 education, the 200+ event participants in each city plastered the walls with both specific obstacles (“I don’t know how to integrate coding in my 4th grade classroom”) and broad community hurdles (“not all schools have gig access”). Connecting across tracks, interests, and professions, community members began to form teams to imagine solutions to shared challenges–solutions that could soon become Gigabit Community Fund projects.

Chattanooga participants at work discussing K-12 education.
Photo: Mary Barnett / Chattanooga Public Library

Activated and connected through these launch events, teams are now working to build out these projects for when the Gigabit Community Fund application window opens in late February.  Among many percolating ideas, teams are beginning to explore how to connect schools across the two gigabit cities, how to make museum content available to a broader audience, and how to connect schools with IT support as gig access is expanded.

Mike Brown (L), Alex Greenwood (R), and the Lifelong Learning track at work in Kansas City.
Photo: Brainzooming

Are you interested in helping make one of these projects a reality, or do you have other ideas to share about how to catalyze change for education and workforce development in Chattanooga or Kansas City? Even if you missed out on the launch events, there are still many ways to get involved:

  • Help us drive, design, and develop new Hive communities in Kansas City and Chattanooga! We’re looking for local classroom teachers, nonprofit leaders, informal educators, developers and designers. Don’t worry – you don’t have to know how to code or how to explain advanced networking! You don’t even have to know what a gig is! Email us if you’re interested, and we’ll be happy to help get you connected.
  • Sign up for updates about the Gigabit Community Fund, including news on applications dates and deadlines.
  • Join our monthly community calls and meet-ups to share ideas, ask questions, or offer expertise.

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