Nonprofit fighting the digital divide opens Westport Road office

“I believe we are focusing on the next big issue in social justice,” Connecting for Good’s Michael Liimatta says, referring to the digital divide between internet haves and have nots. His group has just opened a facility on Westport Road, just down the street from Google Fiber. As Google wires Kansas City to take advantage of high-speed connectivity, Connecting for Good wants to make sure low-income residents and communities aren’t left out of the digital revolution.

Connecting for Good – a nonprofit working to close the digital divide – has set up shop in Midtown.

The organization is inviting the public to an open house and ribbon cutting this afternoon from 3 to 7 p.m. at 1624 Westport Road.


It’s no coincidence that address is close to Google Fiber’s headquarters at Westport Road and State Line or that adjoins the Startup Village that is attracting entrepreneurs to either side of the state line.

Google Fiber is installing their superfast 1 GB network in Kansas City, making it one of the most wired cities in America,” Connecting for Good says on its website. “However, unless we act soon, thousands of families will be left out of this fiber revolution.   Some simply cannot afford to pay for the fiber service.  Others lack the computer equipment to connect and the knowledge to become productive Internet users.  Our organization has a plan to ensure that all citizens can access broadband Internet, regardless of their incomes.

Liimatta says he’s convinced there is a growing underclass in America, the “unconnected.” His group believes Internet access should be seen just like electricity or running water, as a basic utility. They also believe Internet access is essential for any citizen to participate in society today.

His group unsuccessfully pushed Google to provide free or low-cost wireless access to the Rosedale neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas.

Despite Google’s reluctance to get involved in that project, Connecting for Good has launched other projects. It has provided free WiFi access to the Juniper Gardens housing project in KCK. It’s also providing free WiFi access at another KCK section 8 housing complex, Rosedale Ridge. And it’s working on a project on the West Side of Kansas City, Missouri.

“In a matter of three months, we will have brought free internet to 1500 people,” Liimatta says.

Now, with the opening of the Westport Road office, Connecting for Good will have space for its staff, a conference room, a place to rehab computers which it sells for a low cost, and a classroom for teaching people basic Internet skills.

“We’re a feriocous nonprofit startup,” Liamatta says. “We have a big job and a tremendous passion.”