OATS Launches Program to Increase Broadband Technology Adoption Among Senior Citizens in New York’s North Country Region

Partnership will provide free access to tablets and other technology in New York’s North Country as part of Governor Cuomo’s Statewide Broadband Initiative. The program will also pioneer an online learning platform for seniors with support from Macquarie Group Foundation, while offering free in-person tech training sessions thanks to a CEA Foundation grant.

NEW YORK--()--Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), a non-profit that seeks to “change the way we age” by engaging older adults with free access to digital technology and training, has launched a multi-partner initiative to improve broadband adoption among New York seniors living in the state’s sprawling North Country region.

In partnership with the New York State Broadband Program Office, the Macquarie Group Foundation, and the CEA Foundation, OATS will build a ‘broadband adoption ecosystem’ to support the region’s residents who are aged 60 and older.

In some North Country counties, seniors make up more than a quarter of the total population, yet they are far less connected than their peers around the nation. Only one in three U.S. senior citizens have a broadband connection at home, part of a wider problem of isolation and marginalization. The OATS broadband adoption program seeks to address this technology gap in the communities that need it most.

“This unique cross-sector partnership is designed to help older adults in the North Country enter the digital mainstream, improve their quality of life and stay involved in their communities,” said Thomas Kamber, executive director of OATS. “This transformative initiative will connect thousands of seniors to life-changing technologies.”

Over the course of the last decade in New York City, OATS has taught tens of thousands of older adults digital skills that open up pathways to social connection, better health management, economic opportunity, and lifelong learning. Two years ago in Manhattan, OATS opened the Senior Planet Exploration Center, the country’s first technology-themed community center for older adults. Seniors visited the center more than 13,000 times last year to enjoy open access to devices and a wide range of free training programs on how to use them.

Building on the success of this work, OATS aims to bring the benefits of digital inclusion to seniors in the North Country. The new program will encompass a range of initiatives, including:

  • A new Senior Planet Exploration Center, to be located in the Champlain Centre shopping mall in Plattsburgh (Clinton County, New York), and a technology training lab in each of the six other North Country counties, as well as vehicular mobile labs to deliver training to communities scattered throughout the region. Free or subsidized devices will also be distributed to seniors to take home. This work is enabled by an $812,000 “Connect NY” grant from the New York State Broadband Program Office, as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Statewide Broadband Initiative.
  • The development of “Senior Planet U,” a remote learning platform that allows seniors to connect to technology learning resources from home. The development of this innovative platform was made possible with a $450,000 grant from the Macquarie Group Foundation.
  • Hands-on training courses for seniors at technology labs across the region, supported by a $90,000 grant from the CEA Foundation.

The effort is part of a total investment of $9 million from the governor’s public-private New NY Broadband Grant Program that funds broadband expansion efforts in the North Country. In addition to supporting OATS’ technology adoption efforts in the region, the grant program will enable Slic Network Solutions, a provider of broadband Internet, phone, and television service throughout rural communities of northern New York State, to expand its broadband network infrastructure to serve 2,500 new households.

“New York State is pleased to provide Older Adults Technology Services a Connect NY broadband grant designed to increase broadband use in the North Country Region. With lack of knowledge cited as one of the top three reasons people do not use the Internet at home, this program will help bring new broadband users online,” said David Salway, executive director of the New York State Broadband Program Office.

“OATS has developed a highly successful, in-person training model for addressing the technology needs of older adults,” said Michael McLaughlin, U.S. country head for Macquarie Group. “We are proud to support their innovative online learning platform that will help even more seniors get online and improve their quality of life.”

“We’ve seen the incredible impact that consumer technologies have on the lives of older adults through the Senior Planet Exploration Center,” said Steve Ewell, executive director of the CEA Foundation. “We are excited to bring these resources to communities outside the major metropolitan areas and serve as a model for communities across the country.”

The program is slated to kick off this summer.

About OATS

OATS is a non-profit, New York City based organization that engages, trains and supports older adults in using technology to improve their quality of life and enhance their social and civic engagement. The mission of OATS is “to harness the power of technology to change the way we age.” OATS has created a national model for addressing the vital health, socialization, financial, civic and creative needs of older adults. Since 2004, OATS has delivered programs at more than 70 centers across New York City and in their Senior Planet Exploration Center, training more than 20,000 seniors in over 30,000 sessions of direct service. For more information, visit www.oats.org

About The New York State Broadband Program Office

Serving as the state’s single point of contact for broadband issues, the NYS Broadband Program Office, located within Empire State Development, has a mission to increase economic and social opportunities through universal broadband deployment. By identifying broadband needs, and developing unique solutions, the BPO is helping to close the digital divide that exists in adoption and availability rates. For more information, visit www.nysbroadband.ny.gov

About The Macquarie Group Foundation

The Macquarie Group Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Macquarie Group. In the year to March 31, 2015, the Macquarie Group Foundation, together with Macquarie Group staff efforts, contributed $18.4 million and thousands of volunteering and pro bono days to over 1,300 community organizations around the world. Since the Foundation was established in 1985, it and Macquarie staff have contributed more than $200 million globally. For more information, visit www.macquarie.com/us/about/community

About CEA Foundation

The CEA Foundation is a public, national foundation affiliated with the Consumer Electronics Association. It was established with the mission to link seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives. The Foundation is focused on strategic support of programs to impact these communities and has launched its first series of grants in 2012. It also serves to facilitate dialog between industry, consumers, government, advocacy groups and other key stakeholders around important issuesFor more information on the CEA Foundation, please visit CEAFoundation.org


Spector & Associates
Ben Gorelick, 212-943-5858


Spector & Associates
Ben Gorelick, 212-943-5858