This post is an excerpt from Startland News’ original article by Matthew Gwin. Read the full article here. Entrepreneur working on a computer at a table.

A collaborative project to “bridge the gap” in Kansas City’s digital divide secured one of the 2022 Heartland Challenge grants from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

PCs for People Kansas City (formerly Connecting for Good), in partnership with The Usher Garage and No-Where Consultants, will receive $240,000 in funding to be used over two years for the development of a new Digital Readiness Assessment Tool.

In addition to the assessment tool, the group is expected to provide qualifying entrepreneurs with, at minimum: a laptop, desktop, hotspot device, and one year of free Internet access.

The team’s goal is to connect low-income entrepreneurs to the digital resources needed to successfully run and scale their businesses, according to Tom Esselman, executive director of PCs for People Kansas City.

“There’s kind of this ecosystem of support resources that entrepreneurs who have access to tech have always been able to understand and access, whether it’s banks or financing, consultants, financial advisors, HR people, marketing people,” Esselman said.

“Basically, there’s been no bridge to that ecosystem if you lack technology,” he continued. “So the end goal for us is to get so-called informal entrepreneurs into that ecosystem.”

Esselman described PCs for People Kansas City’s philosophy as a “three-legged stool,” focused on providing Internet access, devices, and technology training.

“[These are] people who have lived their whole lives without access to things that most people take for granted,” Esselman said. “We can see just by sitting down and talking to these individuals, families, or small organizations how transformative it can be once you have those basic tech tools under your belt.”