J'Tanya Adams of EveryoneOn, Charlotte

J’Tanya Adams


Historic West End Partners

How can basic technology training affect economic mobility?

One of the things that occurred in my life was that I was in a JTP program, a job training program, that the City of Charlotte had back when I was in my very early 20s. A single parent living in subsidized housing or HUD housing, also receiving some county services like SNAP, which back then they outright called food stamps. It was because I was not as equipped as I needed to be before I became a parent, and of course the daunting task of providing a lifestyle was upon me, and I had not done the necessary preparation. So one of the things that I express to parents is how the JTP changed my life, because I got to take a technology class. This was back in the day of mainframes, and so it was called computer operations. It was a year-long curriculum and before I even finished the curriculum I had job offers. They were transitioning in the industry from a mainframe environment to what they called then a mini-mainframe, and so it was in high demand. And that’s what’s happening now. Technology is always moving and so there’s always a demand for that next wave.

What is the power of online knowledge?

Knowledge is power. All the knowledge now is on the Internet. It’s not in a book with you thumbing through the pages. It’s no longer in the encyclopedia, for those who were born during the time of the encyclopedia. But it’s actually at your fingertips. So I express to [parents] that even today if I have a fleeting thought, even in the middle of the night, that’s why it’s important to have the internet at home, and a device in which you can leverage that avenue of information. If I have a fleeting thought in the middle of the night, I actually sleep with a laptop right where I can reach it, and go straight in and look at whatever it is. Because sometimes inspiration comes in the quiet of the morning in the middle of the night and you would be surprised what you find.

What impact can getting online make in the lives of families?

This opens up a whole new world for families, for mobility in their lives. Whether it is how they live, work, play, shop — it’s all right there and it’s just right at the fingertips. It’s a matter of a device and some connectivity and knowledge and how to navigate on the tool. Real simple stuff.

A full-length speech by J’Tanya Adams to parents in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system is also available.