A Columbus-based nonprofit organization intends to, as its slogan states, get "every citizen online." Starting in January, an organization called Connect Ohio, based in Columbus, will offer free computer and broadband training throughout the state.

A Columbus-based nonprofit organization intends to, as its slogan states, get "every citizen online."

Starting in January, an organization called Connect Ohio, based in Columbus, will offer free computer and broadband training throughout the state.

The program, called "Every Citizen Online," is part of a partnership with more than 100 libraries and community colleges throughout the state, offering free computer and broadband training. Classes will be held at the libraries and colleges over the next two years.

According to a Dec. 21 press release, the program recently received $6.9-million in federal funding, as well as more than $3-million in assistance and contributions from a number of participating entities statewide, to increase the sustainable adoption of broadband services for more than 200,000 Ohio residents.

The statewide public-awareness campaign to inform Ohioans of the free computer training was launched Dec. 20.

Connect Ohio, under the direction of former Micro Center president Tom Fritz, is a division of Washington-based Connected Nation Inc. Connect Ohio partners include several libraries and community colleges, the State Library of Ohio, the Ohio Association of Broadcasters, the Ohio Public Television Stations, Ohio Public Radio, Groundwork Group and the Ohio Public Library Information Network.

In July 2009, the federal government announced the availability of $4-billion in American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funding to increase broadband access and adoption.

The ARRA provided a total of $7.2-billion to the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NITA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service to accelerate broadband deployment in areas of the country that have been without the high-speed infrastructure, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of that, NITA is using $4.7-billion to deploy broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of the country, expand public computer center capacity and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.

Connected Nation facilitates public-private partnerships to increase access to and use of broadband and related technology, according to its website.

"This is an incredibly exciting program for Ohio," Fritz said in the press release. "Currently, just 66 percent of Ohio households subscribe to broadband service, leaving more than 3-million Ohioans on the wrong side of the digital divide. The Every Citizen Online program is an opportunity to close the gap between those who have computer technology at home and those who do not, preparing state residents without high-speed Internet for a technologically driven society.

"This program model presents an opportunity to set a precedent for other states," he said. "We're very pleased to have developed the project through a highly collaborative effort with dozens of local libraries and community colleges across Ohio."

The training, intended for first-time computer and broadband users, will start Jan. 3 at the Pioneer Career and Technology Center, 27 Ryan Road, Shelby, and Crawford County Job and Family Services, 225 E. Mary Street, Bucyrus.

The class includes three two-hour sessions on computer basics and the Internet. To register for the classes, call (419) 347-7744. For more information, visit connectohio.org.