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November 15, 2022

Guest Blog: A new model for internet access in Kansas City

  • , community impact

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Today, we're featuring a guest blog post from Tom Esselman, Director of one of our amazing Kansas City community partners, PCs for People. Google Fiber works with this organization in several of our cities and have recently launched a new project in KC to help get more people online.


PCs for People Kansas City works to make digital equity a reality by getting low-cost quality computers, internet and digital literacy training into the homes of individuals, families and nonprofits with low income. Google Fiber works with this dedicated organization to help more Kansas Citians access quality internet in their homes.

One of the biggest things the pandemic made even more imperative is that access to the internet and functioning devices is critical to success. Without digital access, it’s nearly impossible for people to work remotely, apply for jobs or virtually meet a healthcare provider. For children, lack of internet and device access means they could be left behind in school.

Dating back to 2008, and to play a small part in helping close the digital divide across the country, we created PCs for People, which focuses on providing equitable access to functioning devices. We do this through refurbishing previously used (typically only two to three years old) computers and devices donated by large organizations and individuals. Then, these refurbished devices are sold at deeply discounted prices to individuals who otherwise would not have access to this technology.


Of course, we knew that having a device only gets you so far if you don’t have access to fast, reliable internet — an issue facing more than 163 million individuals across the U.S., according to Pew Charitable Trusts. In Kansas City, we were thrilled to work with Google Fiber to provide Kansas Citians with access to reliable internet. 

Most recently, our collaboration with Google Fiber has facilitated bringing fiber internet to four affordable housing communities in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. Through this project, residents get access to high-speed fiber internet for $15 per month. Now, three of these communities - Pemberton Park, Linwood Gardens and Posada Del Sol - are fully online, and we’ve already seen incredible results for those residents.

“I got my first computer from PCs for People,” said Rose Stigger, Pemberton Park for GrandFamilies manager and resident. “I was the first resident at Pemberton Park, brought up my granddaughters here, and now as I raise my great-grandson here I was the first resident to receive this high speed internet.”

As we continue to expand access to more communities, we’ve learned that building trust with residents is critical to ensuring people make use of this access. In addition to providing quality devices and reliable internet, PCs for People offers digital literacy training to ensure folks make the most of this technology. These services will save residents money, allowing them to allocate those funds to other important needs.

“Up until a few months ago, I didn’t have internet at home,” said Rose. “This internet not only helps my grandson with projects that will surely come up for school but also makes my life easier, too.”

Posted by Tom Esselman, Director, PCs for People Kansas City