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GDI News

Winter 2002 Issue # 1
America Connects Consortium

Front Page

American Connects Consortium (ACC) at Education Development Center, Inc. was established in 2000 by the U.S. Department of Education to help build the capacity of its community technology centers (CTCs), with the aim of developing strong local CTC programs throughout the U.S., and fostering the creation of effective networks of community technology stakeholders.

ACC is a collaboration of eight partners and allied organizations (or "friends") who work together to bring information, training, technical assistance, public attention, and new resources to community technology centers across the country. All this work is made possible by a $2 million contract with the Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

One of the CTC programs that ACC works with is the Appalachian Center for Economic Development (ACEnet), a community economic development organization located in rural southeastern Ohio. ACEnet builds the capacity of local communities to network, innovate, and work together to create a strong, sustainable regional economy.

ACEnet uses a sectoral strategy, currently focusing on the food and technology sectors of the economy. In each sector, ACEnet staff provide basic service that businesses need to start, expand, and create quality jobs. At the same time, staff encourage entrepreneurs to network with each other, sharing information and generating joint ventures that enable them to enjoy economies of scale typical of much larger businesses.

ACEnet staff also identify key new services or resources that, if available, could increase the success of the businesses. ACEnet either directly develops the capacity-as in the case of the incubator facilities-or staff work with other local or regional organizations to develop the new service-as is the case of the many public access sites in the area that provide free computer usage. These new capacities become community assets that continue to generate and support new economic activity for years to come.

Another project sponsored by ACEnet is the Youth Leadership Forum, which explores opportunities for youth development and youth leadership through new technologies. With the support of CTC staff, young people in centers around the country are learning, seeking out new ideas, developing artistic skills, creating content, and contributing to their communities in a variety of ways. The AT&T Young Leaders Program is one the ways in which ACC supports this. In summer 2001, ACC launched a pilot in which 10 young people involved with leadership activities back at home were chosen to participate in an online exploration of how new technologies can be used to cultivate leadership skills. For more information click here


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