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Creating a Digital Peace Corps




Jan 29, 2001


David Hunter

Speaking from within a foundation, I find the recent comments by Daniel Ben-Horin from CompuMentor very well thought through and devastatingly on target. Foundations, far from being reliably part of the solution, for the present are mostly part of the problem. But they represent a potential resource of no small magnitude, and consequently working from within the philanthropic sector to move things along so that more and more, foundations will invest in core organizational capacity building (including IT infrastructure) in the nonprofit sector, and also value incremental gains in accomplishment, seems to be a worthwhile thing to do.

What follows is a purely personal view, not reflecting in any way that of the foundation for which I work. I may have missed a thread of the discussion, and if so I apologize. But it seams to me that no serious consideration of a domestic Digital Peace Corps can be complete without thinking about the role of government. In the end, part of the strategy for bridging the "digital divide" between well off and poor people/communities has to include a plan for shifting social policy. There is some compelling history to revisit in thinking about this - the WPA and CCC come to mind. But this would take the emergence of extraordinary leadership, either in government or in circles that government leaders listen to, and an acknowledgment that the widening socioeconomic divide in this country can be thought of as an assault on poor people by the major economic and social policy institutions of this country. (The recent protests in Davos, Seattle, etc. are making this same point on a global scale.)

David E.K. Hunter, Ph.D. Director of Assessments
Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

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