History of Our Organization
Connecting for Good (CFG) was created in 2011 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.
Relying on Rick Deane’s knowledge of wireless mesh networks, CFG installed its first free Wi-Fi network in Rosedale Ridge, Kansas, in December of 2012, bringing internet services to nearly 400 residents. In 2013 CFG was able to partner with the Kansas City Kansas (KCK) Housing Authority to bring internet service to Juniper Gardens, a public housing project. Having formed a board of directors, CFG, In July of 2013 moved to Troost Avenue, the racial and economic dividing line of Kansas City, Missouri. Moving to this location allowed CFG to expand its services to include computer refurbishing and digital literacy training in an open computer lab serving some of the most vulnerable of Kansas City’s urban core residents.
In May 2014 through its partnership with the KCK Housing Authority, Connecting For Good 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. In December, 2014, Connecting for Good became a founding member of the Kansas City Digital Inclusion Coalition, along with the Kansas City Public Library, Literacy KC, KC Digital Drive, and the City of KCMO. By this time, CFG had trained over 2000 urban core residents, and sold over 1000 affordable computer devices to low-income families for as little as $50.
With growing demand, CFG moved again in November of 2015, opening the Linwood Area Computer Center in the beautifully restored Linwood Area Ministry Place (LAMP), 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. The board hired former Hallmark executive Tom Esselman as CEO in January of 2016. Under Esselman’s leadership, Connecting For Good has shifted its focus beyond Connectivity, Hardware, and Training, towards an outcomes-based approach. Funding has increased to support goals in Education, Employment, Economic Impact, and the Environment. With more classes and on the job training in more sites, including Community Learning Centers throughout Kansas City, CFG trained 7000 residents in 2016. In April, 2017, CFG hired a new Chief Programs Officer, Angela Underwood, who will lead the development and expansion of education and job training programs, as well as the formalization and expansion of a city-wide volunteer program.