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Community Technology Empowerment Project

Contact Information

550 Vandalia Street
St Paul, MN 55114

(651) 224-5153

Focus Areas

  • Arts & Culture
  • Community & Nonprofit Development
  • Economic Security
  • Education & Youth

To empower people to use media and communications to better lives, use authentic voice and build common understanding.

  • About Us
    Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) is St. Paul’s non-profit Community Media Center. Founded in 1984, our mission is to empower people to use communications to better lives, use authentic voice, and build common understanding. Originally SPNN started as a cable access station, helping communities share their voice through video. In the last decade, media have evolved so dramatically that SPNN’s programming has grown to include basic digital literacy skills training. SPNN has four major programmatic departments: Access, Community Productions, Youth, and CTEP AmeriCorps.
  • Our Impact
    Since 2004, the Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) AmeriCorps program places 35 AmeriCorps members at approximately 30 public computer centers in the Twin Cities to teach basic technology literacy skills for social, civic and economic empowerment to those who are low-income or new Americans. Last year alone, the CTEP program helped certify over 1600 individuals in technology skills, and more than 700 later obtained employment. As a recent example, our 2015 evaluation study conducted by the Minnesota Literacy Council indicates that 51 percent of learners in CTEP training who go through Northstar Digital Literacy Certification and then find new employment report that they make more money in their current job than in their previous position, with a new mean average salary of $32,466.

    In addition to providing direct service, part of CTEP’s mission is to increase the capacity of our site partners to offer effective instruction. Our members need to continuously revamp programming at their sites in response to evolving online employer practices and changes in the workforce. CTEP members begin their service year by conducting a Site Capacity Assessment to identify the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of the agency’s technology literacy programming, as well as community needs related to technology. They assess programming again at mid-year and year-end to gauge growth in capacity.

    We often look to our partners to help us understand the impact of our CTEP members’ instruction, use of digital literacy assessments, employment coaching, and capacity building. Liberty Mickelson, site supervisor for CTEP at the Employment Action Center, observed that since offering Northstar certification, participants “are excited to be doing things that they’ve never felt they could before such as: Making doctor appointments online (saving them bus fare, phone minutes, etc.), checking their children’s school attendance and grades online, and scheduling interviews online. Best of all, they are able to discuss what they know in interviews, which is making them more employable! Job placement among our participants increased by 23% last year. Due to the fact that we have not changed programming in any other ways, we correlate this increase to our addition of the certifications for our job seekers.”