Meet Allison Dougan, American Connection Corps Fellow

Forward Arkansas is proud to welcome Allison Dougan, an American Connection Corps (ACC) Fellow. In her role, Allison will lead transformational projects to expand broadband connectivity and advance digital inclusion and equity in Arkansas. She will support Forward’s efforts in partnership with the Arkansas Connectivity Coalition to expand broadband access statewide with a particular focus on closing the digital access gap for students and families. This two-year placement is led by Land O’Lakes, Inc. and funded in part by Lead for America (LFA) and Heartland Forward.

Learn more about Allison’s work in our Q&A:

  1. What inspired you to participate in the American Connection Corps?
    1. I aspire to positively impact as many people as possible. By providing families and students with the digital skills, access, and devices they need for success, we have the possibility of breaking generational chains of poverty and changing the courses of an unlimited amount of lives.

      When studying for my first degree in 2017, I didn’t have a laptop or internet. I would get to my college library at 2 a.m. to study and submit my online work before classes, which would normally start at about 9 a.m. The excessive time and work needed in order to access the most basic sites and information played a large role in who I was as a student and what I valued.

      As someone who has suffered from the digital divide and knows the inequity that comes with it, I know the impact that simple solutions and basic access can have on students, families, and society as a whole. I was inspired to participate in the American Connection Corps because of the opportunity it has given me to create positive change in the lives of people just like me.
  2. Why is access to high-speed internet so important?
    1. Access to high-speed internet plays a large role in determining the success rate of students, workers, and families alike. With access to high-speed internet, you have the world at your fingertips, providing you with unlimited possibilities.
  3. How does it specifically impact students?
    1. The digital divide is one of the largest challenges that students face when it comes to the current education system. We are seeing a steady increase in the problems and difficulties that students face when they have limited access to high speed internet, limited or no access to devices at home, and/or no access to the digital literacy skills they need or access to someone with those skills. Students have a hard time completing homework, accessing online classrooms, and submitting work, thus driving down the success rate of the students and making it even harder to obtain their education.
  4. As an Arkansan, what does it mean to you to help bridge the divide for our state’s residents?
    1. As an Arkansan, bridging the digital divide to me is ensuring that everyone in our state, regardless of location, has adequate access, skills, and devices in order to successfully participate in everyday life in our highly digitalized world.
  5. What are you most excited to accomplish throughout your two-year placement?
    1. Throughout the next two years, I am thrilled to actively participate in and watch as the lives of students and families are improved through access and education. One of the biggest things I hope to accomplish is the successful implementation of a digital literacy certificate program for students, families, and parents, which would provide both workforce development and the required digital literacy skills for everyday life.