Connecting for Good (CFG) was created by Rick Deane and Michael Liimatta as a response to Google Fiber’s announcement to make Kansas City its first gigabit fiber city. Its objective was to provide internet connectivity for low-income communities throughout the Kansas City area, with a focus on connectivity and hardware.
Relying on Rick Deane’s knowledge of wireless mesh networks, CFG installed its first free Wi-Fi network in Rosedale Ridge, Kansas, bringing internet services to nearly 400 residents.
CFG formed a partnership with the Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority to bring internet service to Juniper Gardens, a public housing project. A board of directors formed in July, and CFG opened a Missouri location on Troost Avenue, which enabled the expansion of services to include computer refurbishing and digital literacy training. The focus of CFG was becoming centered around a three-pronged strategy that consisted of connectivity, hardware, and digital literacy, that addressed three of the major factors causing the digital divide.
Through partnership with the KCK Housing Authority, CFG opened a second facility, the Northeast Wyandotte County Community Technology Center, at 2006 N 3rd Street in Kansas City, Kansas. The center opened with 20 public computer workstations, with regularly scheduled digital literacy classes. Connecting for Good became a founding member of the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion along with the Kansas City Public Library, Literacy KC, KC Digital Drive, and the City of Kansas City, Missouri. By this time, CFG had trained over 2,000 urban core residents, and sold over 1,000 affordable computer devices to low-income families for as low as $50.00.
With growing demand, CFG moved its Missouri location to the beautifully restored Linwood Area Ministry Place (LAMP) at 3210 Michigan Avenue, to serve residents east of the Troost Avenue divide. At this same time, Michael Liimatta left Connecting for Good to become the inaugural manager of HUD’s ConnectHome initiative in Washington DC.
Former Hallmark executive Tom Esselman was hired as CEO in January. Under Esselman’s leadership, CFG shifted focus beyond Connectivity, Hardware, and Training, towards an outcomes-based approach. Funding increased to support goals in Education, Employment, Economic Impact, and the Environment. With more classes and training taking place in more sites, including Community Learning Centers throughout Kansas City, CFG trained 7000 residents in 2016. Also, thanks to a generous grant from the Hall Family Foundation, a total remodel of the LAMP Campus was done that December, and resulted in a new computer lab.
*This is not an all-inclusive history, but is meant to show some of CFG's major events and overview of the organization.