By Cecilia Garcia

The very first Net Inclusion Summit was held last May in Kansas City, and several Senior Service America staff were there. Convened by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the gathering brought together more than 200 various organizations from across the country working to ensure that all Americans can reap the benefits of 21st century communications technology. We have been working on digital inclusion for older Americans since 2009 and wanted to represent the voice and concerns of this important segment of the population at the summit.

We found ourselves in good company. Wanda Davis of the Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center attended our summit breakout session entitled, “Resources for Getting Seniors Online.” We highlighted Wanda’s senior center in an article published by the Benton Foundation’s Digital Beat Blog entitled, “Federal Funding Fosters Senior Digital Learning.” Also at the summit was Kami Griffith of Community Technology Network, whose work with the City of San Francisco’s Department on Aging was also featured in our article.

At our breakout session, Bob Harootyan, SSAI Manager of Research, presented our analysis of data published by the Pew Research Center, indicating that income and education are as important as age in determining whether a person is online or not. We first published this analysis in another Digital Beat Blog article, “Disadvantaged elders: Least likely to be online.” He also presented his findings on how digital learning in a cordial low-pressure learning environment promotes mental well-being, based on data from our Digital Inclusion Initiative.

Session participants told us that they planned to share our research and analysis as they reach out to funders to support digital literacy and computer training for older Americans.

With so much attention being paid to make sure children have Internet access at home for schoolwork, it’s easy for funders and policymakers to overlook the needs of senior citizens. In Kansas City we found that older Americans have some important allies across the country working to eliminate the digital divide for everyone.

Making SCSEP Visible

June 13, 2016

By Tony Sarmiento

If you’re a subgrantee of Senior Service America, Inc., you are focused every day on delivering programs that are efficient and effective. But you won’t be able to accomplish your goals unless older people in your community come to your door.

Some of that happens already because more older Americans are looking for work today more than ever. But many more people could take advantage of SCSEP and your other programs if they only knew about them.

Here are some hints about how and where to generate publicity. These ideas are not foolproof; no media strategy ever is. But they are designed to reach the people who can benefit most from your programs.

NEWSPAPERS: They are still around, and they are particularly alert to local stories if they are small or small-ish. Don’t just mail in a press release. Call the primary local columnist (every paper has one). He or she will always be looking for stories about your community, which are exactly what you can provide.

TELEVISION: Local TV stations often are desperate for human-interest stories on weekends. You’ve got plenty of them. Call the assignment desk, or a reporter you might have seen on the screen.

RADIO: Three avenues are talk shows, all-news stations and public radio. Don’t scoff at the staying power of radio. Research shows that even a one-time “listen” to a radio story stays with a person longer than a TV story.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook or Twitter alone will accomplish very little, but using one or both can support your other visibility efforts. While you might reach more older adults on Facebook, you might reach more reporters on Twitter.

ETHNIC NEWS MEDIA. Over 57 million ethnic adults in the U.S. can be reached through 3000+ ethnic media outlets that include newspapers, radio/TV, and social media. For more information about this fastest growing sector of American journalism, go to New America Media.

We know that for every SCSEP participant, there are another 100 more older workers who are eligible for our program. Let’s do our best to make your program visible in your community.