Photo credit: Ray Mina
The internet has become such a central part of daily life that it’s easy to assume everyone has access or instinctively knows how to navigate online resources. In reality, the opportunities of our
increasingly digital world hold little promise for homeless individuals and families who are cut off from the web.
For more than a century, Compass Family Services (CFS) has been providing comprehensive support services to San Franciscans in need. Their focus on family homelessness began in the 1990s,
when they recognized a growing need to help families secure permanent housing and attain economic self-sufficiency. In 2016, they extended that commitment through a unique collaboration with Twitter
to bridge a growing barrier to financial and housing stability – the digital divide. The Twitter NeighborNest (the Nest) is a family-friendly technology center where parents and children can access
computers and learn basic technology skills in a nonjudgmental and supportive environment.
The Nest provides tools and resources – including free drop-in childcare – to help underserved families search for and obtain housing and employment opportunities, stay current with school
assignments and updates, and maintain personal and professional relationships. Family members can take computer classes and workshops geared toward different skill levels, participate in English-language tutorials,
and enjoy non-tech activities designed to foster parent-child bonding. Through the partnership, CFS offers childcare providers and a case manager who oversees workshops, classes and drop-in lab hours,
while Twitter provides grant funding, staff members who jointly operate and oversee the Nest, and employee volunteers.
“Our partnership with Twitter has enabled us to create a space where the less fortunate in our community can explore the internet and access the information and tools they need to assist them out of
homelessness,” said Erica Kisch, Executive Director. “By all measures, the Nest is making a difference. In just three years, we have hosted more than 4,500 visits by parents and children,
and provided more than 400 hours of childcare and nearly 200 group sessions and educational workshops. We’re confident that this program can be replicated in communities across the country.”