DigitalC's Launch Party: Committing to Cleveland's Digitally Equitable Future

Blog Date
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

January 26, 2024 - Jonathan Stone, Joshua Edmonds, and Chad Porter celebrating with a champagne toast at DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party!
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I was fortunate to be able to attend the Friday, January 26, 2024, SOLD OUT DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party -- so much information was shared that evening about what will be happening this year in Cleveland!

DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party! MIDTOWN TECH HIVE | 6 - 10 P.M. | JANUARY 26, 2024
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I am putting this blog post together for three reasons:

  • First, to share a little about the interesting information I learned at the launch event and my past interest in DigitalC's work. Creative solutions to the digital divide issue in Cleveland has always been of interest to me.

  • Second, to establish what I publish here as a starting benchmark of expectations. From this starting point, the community can measure the progress of DigitalC's staff as they move forward with the Cleveland digital revolution that they have envisioned.

  • Finally, to make this my first step in fulfilling the commitment that all the attendees to the DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party were asked to make: To support the mission of the organization using whatever resources you have available.

DigitalC, headquartered at the MidTown Tech Hive in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood, has evolved from its initial focus on digital skills training in 2015 into a dynamic technology social enterprise. With a mission to bridge the digital divide - for good, DigitalC is dedicated to creating a bold and equitable digital future for all Cleveland residents. Learn more about our journey at

It is my hope that this blog post encourages you to join the people who attended the launch event in making the commitment to support the DigitalC mission.




Last summer, on June 29, 2023, I reconnected with DigitalC CEO Joshua Edmonds at the Connecting Cleveland - DigitalC Public Meeting.
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Before writing about the programs launching in 2024, I want to first share some of my history with DigitalC, its predecessors, and its MidTown Tech Hive.


2004 & 2014

The following block quote from the current DigitalC "About" web page, ties directly to the second block quote, which is from a blog post I wrote in 2014 about its predecessor: OneCommunity.

The History of DigitalC

Our organization formed after the sale of OneCommunity broadband assets. OneCommunity, which began as OneCleveland, relied upon federal stimulus funding to expand the broadband footprint and launch “Connect Your Community.”

OneCleveland Website Logo - 2003 and early 2004
Enlarge OneCleveland Website Logo - 2003 and early 2004
Note the animated gif

The first time I heard of OneCommunity (@OneCommunity), it was called OneCleveland. I was on the board for the Great Cleveland PC Users Group (@GCPCUG), and OneCommunity's founder came to do a presentation for GCPCUG on this new nonprofit serving Cleveland with high speed Internet access. Since OneCleveland/OneCommunity was established as a nonprofit in 2003, I assume the presentation must have taken place around 2004.

I remember being immediately fascinated by the potential. Here was an organization that would make use of underused, pre-existing fiber-optic cable to provide faster connectivity to benefit Greater Clevelanders!

Yes, I have been fascinated by the potential for 20 years, and writing about this potential for 10 years:



Cleveland Foundation Digital Excellence Initiative
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If you do a search of my past blog posts for the word "DigitalC," you will see three posts starting in 2018. If you look closer at the November 11, 2018, post, you will see mentioned a "Digital Innovation Fellow" named Joshua Edmonds as one of the contacts for the Cleveland Foundation Digital Excellence Initiative. Yes, the first time I met the current DigitalC CEO was at an event at the DigitalC Midtown Tech Hive. Here is what I wrote about Joshua Edmonds in 2018:

Thursday, November 1, 2018 - #CtrlAltCLE Convenes: Blockchain for Social Good

. . .

The Cleveland Foundation's Chief of Digital Innovation & Chief Information Officer Leon Wilson (@Leon_CleveFdn) and Digital Innovation Fellow Joshua Edmonds (@JoshEdmonds216) hosted the meeting. Leon Wilson presented an excellent introduction to blockchain.

. . .

With my experience running the Web Development Special Interest Group - for ten years, I know firsthand the value of attending tech meetups. Thank you, Leon Wilson (@Leon_CleveFdn) and Joshua Edmonds (@JoshEdmonds216), for starting Ctrl + Alt + CLE to bring Cleveland area talent together to address the issue of digital equity. It is a subject that I find very interesting.



THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2023 AT 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM EDT
Connecting Cleveland - DigitalC Public Meeting Cleveland is the “worst-connected city” in the country. DigitalC and 27+ partners have a plan to change that. Join us to get informed and inspired while meeting experts, networking, and enjoying food and refreshments. All are welcome.
Learn more at

Be sure to read the text on the following image, which contains what I posted after the June 29, 2023, Connecting Cleveland - DigitalC Public Meeting. BIG goals were announced to move Cleveland from being the “worst-connected city” to reaching EVERY Cleveland household!!

Striving to reach EVERY Cleveland household (no restrictions) for $18 per month
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Cleveland Households Without Broadband of Any Type
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Congratulations, DigitalC, on having so many people interested in your Citywide Network Launch Party that the event SOLD OUT!
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This history section bring us up to Thursday, January 18, 2024 -- a week before the DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party -- and it is SOLD OUT!

Thank you to DigitalC Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Valerie Jerome for welcoming me to attend even though the event was sold out:

Hi Stuart, this is Valerie with DigitalC. . . . If you are interested, please join. We appreciate your consistent support.



DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party
Friday, January 26, 2024

I recommend viewing videos in full screen mode!

Why You Should Want To Come:
Be a part of history! Join us as we launch a network that Cleveland has never seen before. We are starting a technological revolution that will change the trajectory of our city’s digitally equitable future. Our partners, subscribers, and friends are showing up en masse to celebrate the deployment of a state-of-the-art citywide network poised to bridge the digital divide in Cleveland - for good! This launch is made possible by the pioneering four-year agreement with the City of Cleveland and landmark investments from public, private and philanthropic partners. There’s nothing basic about this event – it's the bold dawn of a new era that will transform the digital landscape and create an equitable digital future for our city!

Highlights of the Evening:
Launch of DigitalC's Deployment of a Citywide Network and Associated Elements Exclusive Networking Opportunities with Leaders in Tech Engaging Demonstrations of Our Next-Generation Technology Music, Dance, and an Inspirational Atmosphere Delicious Hors d'oeuvres and Refreshments to Keep the Energy High (Catered by Cleveland's Own Chef Stacey Stoudemire)

Be Part of the Digital Revolution!
Your presence is needed not just to celebrate, but to unapologetically commit to creating a digitally equitable future for Cleveland. Let's make history as we launch this state-of-the-art network.

As attendees entered tonight, they were given a special January 26, 2024, DigitalC Commemorative Coin, and were told to listen for directions later in the presentations on what to do with the coin.



People Networking to Support State-Of-The-Art Citywide Network

. . . In a sold-out event on January 26, 2024, DigitalC celebrated the launch of its state-of-the-art citywide network . . .

It was great to be part of an event which had such a large turnout of people interested in supporting the improvement of Internet access in the City of Cleveland. I met someone who works to assist youth with career opportunities, and I ran into someone who I have known for a long time, who is now part of building a new tech resource for local businesses.

I was glad to be able to talk to Felton Thomas, Jr., who is Executive Director and CEO of the Cleveland Public Library - The People's University, and on the Board of Directors for DigitalC. This was the first time I had seen him since he received the 2023 Homer C. Wadsworth Award from the Cleveland Foundation, and I wanted to congratulate him in person. Learn more about the reason Felton Thomas, Jr., earned the award by reading the article on the Cleveland Foundation website and in my blog post about the 2023 Cleveland Foundation Annual Meeting:

I also talked to Kevin Goodman from BlueBridge Networks, and he introduced me to one of his senior staff who was attending the event with him. The first image below shows the replies I received to my social media post regarding the launch event from Kevin Goodman and DigitalC. Thank you, DigitalC, for your kind words as I join in your journey. Thank you, Kevin Goodman, for BlueBridge Networks' support of DigitalC and for sending me the picture of myself at the event:

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BlueBridge Networks is proud to be the data center for the DigitalC mission in Cleveland.
      Kevin Goodman's photo of me (in red shirt in the front row) at the DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party presentations



Citywide Network Launch Event Video
Joshua Edmonds
DigitalC Chief Executive Officer

DigitalC Chief Executive Officer Joshua Edmonds kicked off the presentations and shared the Citywide Network Launch Event Video.

DigitalC Chief Executive Officer Joshua Edmonds kicked off the presentations and shared the Citywide Network Launch Event Video
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“This launch not only revolutionizes digital access and training in Cleveland but sets us on a trailblazing path to creating a digitally equitable future for all city residents,” said Joshua Edmonds, Chief Executive Officer, DigitalC.



Jonathan Stone
Assistant Director, DigitalC MidTown Tech Hive

DigitalC MidTown Tech Hive Assistant Director Jonathan Stone acted as the emcee for the evening.
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Jonathan Stone welcomed everyone to the evening's festivities, and acted as the emcee for the launch presentations. Be sure to watch the following video about the launch and DigitalC's goal to connect the whole City of Cleveland:

I recommend viewing videos in full screen mode!


Jonathan Stone
Assistant Director, DigitalC MidTown Tech Hive

DigitalC Assistant Director Jonathan Stone kicks off the Hyperlink Event Series! The Launch Party is the first offical Hyperlink Event.
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Hyperlink Event Series: Events ranging from co-working day parties to open mic comedy and poetry nights; these are dynamic activations designed to engage and attract customers. These events foster community, education, and enjoyment, welcoming everyone into DigitalC’s headquarters at the MidTown Tech Hive.

As announced by DigitalC Assistant Director Jonathan Stone, the Citywide Network Launch Party is the VERY FIRST Hyperlink event! He shared a list of potentail topics and activities for this new series, and the following is what I jotted down on my iPhone as he spoke (much more to come):

I later learned from DigitalC Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Valerie Jerome that the Hyperlink Event Series could also include:

  • Art Exhibitions

  • Black History Month programs

  • Retail Pop-up (Holiday Pop-up)

  • Comedy Night

These gatherings of creative people for DigitalC Hyperlink seem to offer something for everyone.



Hive Cafe
Chef Stacey Stoudemire

Chef Stacey Stoudemire shared her success story that led to her setting up the Hive Cafe in the DigitalC MidTown Tech Hive.
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Hive Cafe: A vibrant culinary hotspot at the MidTown Tech HIve, is operated by renowned Chef Stacey Stoudemire. The cafe serves as a bustling social hub where creativity and community are set within the innovative atmosphere.

I learned that DigitalC is filled with the sweet smells of food all day long from the Hive Cafe. Imagine the aroma of bacon!

Learn more online at:

In this vibrant space, where creation meets hustle, immerse yourself in a community-driven environment. Fuel your inspiration with freshly brewed coffee and Chef Stoudemire's signature dishes, crafted to sustain both body and mind. At the Hive Cafe, we invite you to savor the intersection of taste and tenacity, where good food and caffeine propel you toward transformative ideas and unparalleled success.



Daryl Kelley
DigitalC Outreach & Training Specialist

I recommend viewing videos in full screen mode!

Click: DigitalC's tailored training program, designed to enhance the digital skills of Cleveland residents. Offering a range of courses and workshops, Click empowers individuals with the knowledge and tools needed for success in today’s digital world, fostering technical skill development and digital literacy across the community.

First, my story: One of the things I learned about at the June 29, 2023, Connecting Cleveland - DigitalC Public Meeting was that DigitalC provides digital skills training to older Cleveland residents. So, on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, when I met an attendee at the Cleveland Leadership Center (CLC) Open House who wanted information about digital literacy for older adults, I knew to have her call DigitalC. Three days later, at Friday's DigitalC Launch Party, I just happened to sit next to DigitalC Outreach & Training Specialist Daryl Kelley, and then watched his presentation on the Click training program. The following Monday, I looked up the CLC Open House attendee's work phone number, and left her information on how to contact Daryl Kelley. I hope my call will lead to them connecting, and then to Cleveland residents receiving DigitalC's training.

I share my story here to encourage others to spread the message about DigitalC's programs!

In the following photo that DigitalC shared on social media of Richard Rivera and Chef Stacey Stoudemire celebrating with a champagne toast, you can see Daryl Kelley (orange wrap) and me (red shirt) sitting in the front row at the presentations:

MidTown Tech Hive Director Richard Rivera and Chef Stacey Stoudemire celebrating with a champagne toast. To the right is Daryl Kelley (orange wrap) and me (red shirt) sitting in the front row at the presentations.
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Some new things I learned from Daryl Kelley's presentation at the DigitalC Launch Party include:

  • DigitalC provides over 40 educational programs
  • Employment opportunities are developed
  • In-person tech training is available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at noon
  • Virtual (online) tech training is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays



DigitalC Activewear
Chad Porter
Founder/Owner CHVD JUSTIN

DigitalC Activewear by CHVD JUSTIN
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Activewear Line in Collaboration with CHVD JUSTIN: A dynamic collaboration between DigitalC and the Cleveland-based fashion designer CHVD JUSTIN. This exclusive collection is crafted for those who embrace both an active lifestyle and the digital age, offering sleek, modern designs that make a statement in both functionality and fashion.

CHVD JUSTIN website:



New Marketing Brand Elements
Valerie Jerome
DigitalC Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

DigitalC Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Valerie Jerome talking new brand elements!
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New Brand Assets: A series of exciting brand elements at the press conference, including an innovative new logo, a preview of our user-centric, redesigned website, and the introduction of the brand mascot, C-REX, a symbol of strength, agility, and progress.

Valerie Jerome presented new DigitalC branding elements, and said to watch for a new website in early February 2024.

New DigitalC logo:

DigitalC New Logo

- we went from all lowercase to all caps - bold, unapologetic, takes up space

- forward leaning to align with forward thinking

- arrows to represent speed

New DigitalC mascot:

About C-Rex

Meet C-Rex, the charismatic dinosaur mascot of DigitalC, Cleveland’s choice for premier internet. C-Rex is here to "greenline" the city, ensuring that everyone can fully participate in the digital world. C-Rex uses his innate strength and size to navigate through heavy tree canopies and overcome any obstacle to deliver connectivity to Clevelanders. As the dinosaur equivalent of an Apex predator, C-Rex's massive body and powerful jaws allow it to dominate as a top predator, securing its place in the ecosystem and thriving in a competitive environment while embodying our mission to bridge the digital divide - for good.

Throughout this blog post, I have been including block quotes that link to a PDF file of the news release that Valerie Jerome sent me about the evening:



Jose Valdez
DigitalC Chief Operating Officer

DigitalC Chief Operating Officer Jose Valdez explained the high-speed connectivity that will be provided by DigitalC's Canopy!
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Canopy: Superior internet service providing Cleveland residents with high-speed connectivity, offering a seamless, and superior, online experience with minimum 100/100 Mbps speeds for just $18 a month.

DigitalC's Canopy will provide high-speed and reliable connectivity over the whole city! I heard that the timeframe for making this happen is just 18 months! Both tonight at the launch, and at the June 29, 2023, Connecting Cleveland - DigitalC Public Meeting, I learned about some of the technology that will make this reliable connectivity possible -- very impressive and will make Cleveland a leader in the nation!



Joshua Edmonds
DigitalC Chief Executive Officer

HybridX6 network architecture
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HybridX6: Signifies the innovative coupling of technologies employed to power the network. It represents a cutting-edge network infrastructure that is the foundation of all related initiatives, harnessing the most advanced technologies in next-generation fixed wireless access. This sophisticated network architecture guarantees unmatched reliability and speed, establishing a new benchmark in internet connectivity.

HybridX6 is the technology that will run the DigitalC network. DigitalC, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is looking to make an historic investment in Cleveland by being the first city to use this new HybridX6 technology. Cleveland's DigitalC will implement a technological model that can later be spread to other cities.


  • Hybrid — uses the best of both fiber and wireless
  • “X” - multiply the strength
  • Uses a system that is more stable and is high quality

The revolution is here -- to not make just what people want, but make what people deserve.



The Challenge & Celebratory Toast
DigitalC Head of Customer Experience Roman Waked
DigitalC Director of the MidTown Tech Hive Richard Rivera

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DigitalC Head of Customer Experience Roman Waked challenges the attendees to do their part to further DigitalC's mission.
    DigitalC Director of the MidTown Tech Hive Richard Rivera speaks before raising a toast and inviting all the attendees to join in supporting the DigitalC mission.

Additionally, DigitalC celebrated this launch by presenting the first 150 guests with a limited edition commemorative challenge coin, symbolizing their participation in this groundbreaking moment. The evening also featured a toast, led by DigitalC's team, inviting all in attendance to join the mission.

DigitalC Head of Customer Experience Roman Waked and DigitalC Director of the MidTown Tech Hive Richard Rivera wrapped up the presentions with first telling their personal stories of why they support the DigitalC mission, and then asking attendees to join them in this endeavor.

January 26, 2024, DigitalC Commemorative Coin
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Roman Waked asked everyone to look at the January 26, 2024, DigitalC Commemorative Coin they were given when they entered tonight, and explained that it is a challenge coin. The attendees were asked to put it somewhere where they would see it, and remember to do their part to fulfill what was stated in the invitation to the event:

Be Part of the Digital Revolution!
Your presence is needed not just to celebrate, but to unapologetically commit to creating a digitally equitable future for Cleveland. Let's make history as we launch this state-of-the-art network.

After Roman Waked challenged the attendees, then Richard Rivera toasted the attendees for their commitment to work to further the mission.



Celebration -- Dance and Cake!

I recommend viewing videos in full screen mode!

Read the text on the cake closely. I love how it mirrored the presentation topics for the evening's event.
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A BIG thank-you to the sponsors of the DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party:


Related Blog Posts

I always like to include in my blog posts a list of related posts that may be of interest to the readers of this blog post.

Here are two past blog posts from events that took place at the DigitalC MidTown Tech Hive:

OneCleveland → OneCommunity → DigitalC. The following blog post that I wrote in 2014 tells how I saw a presentation about the predecessors to DigitalC:

There is a high level of overlap here between these topics that relates to DigitalC good work, but see the following related blog tags:

Regarding the work of Felton Thomas, Jr., at the Cleveland Public Library; Kevin Goodman at BlueBridge Networks; and the Cleveland Foundation, please see the following blog and blog tags:



The Future!!

I write above about 2004, 2014, and now what is happening in 2024. None of that is important if we can't get to the point in 2034 where we stop needing to write about the digital divide in Cleveland.

Will the digital revolution that the DigitalC staff talks about today be a source of local community historic pride in the history books that future children read in 2034? In 2034, will high-quality Internet access be so common that it will just be taken for granted by the citizens of Cleveland like other utilities such as water, natural gas, and electricity?

I am excited by the vision of connectivity presented at the DigitalC Citywide Network Launch Party, but as I said to Joshua Edmonds at the evening's end, the real proof will be in the years ahead. I am excited to watch the process and learn more as DigitalC makes the desirable future of high-speed Internet connectivity in Cleveland happen.