• Awarded: 2005
  • Issue Areas: Economic Opportunity · Education · Post-Secondary Education · Secondary Education · Youth Job Skills
  • Region: Central America · Europe · North America · South America
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    CDI Center for Digital Inclusion is a social organization that uses technology for social change, empowering communities, and encouraging entrepreneurship, education, and citizenship. CDI imagines a world where individuals use appropriate technology to build a more just and free society.

    The CDI network operates through 842 digital empowerment spaces in 15 countries – Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Spain, the United States, England, Mexico, Portugal, Venezuela, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Romania, and Latvia. This global network is coordinated and monitored by 24 regional and international offices, extending to the remotest parts of Latin America, benefiting people of different ages, cultures, races, and ethnicities. To date CDI has impacted more than 1,640,000 lives.

    CDI uses a methodology that is based on the work of Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire. Freire developed a simplified adult literacy technique based on the context of each individual’s universe, making them agents of their own transformation. CDI has adapted this technique to digital empowerment.

    Low-income communities in the world’s poorest regions are regularly excluded from the benefits of technological innovation.

    CDI teaches people how to use technology to improve their communities and their lives.

    By blending civic education and preparing people from low-income communities for good jobs, CDI and founder Rodrigo Baggio are harnessing technology to transform lives and communities.

    More than 1 million people have gained access to the internet, and 90,000 people have graduated from training programs.

    Ambition for Change

    The power of technology is harnessed and owned by low-income communities all over the world, opening opportunities for economic and social well being.

    Path to Scale

    Business Growth and Social Franchising

    CDI continues to expand its online learning platform and open new centers. Entrepreneurs can partner with CDI to open centers that share revenue with CDI. New technology allows mobile centers to be established with only a smart phone, tablet computer and connectivity.

    Business Model

    Revenue from corporate partners and clients of CDI Ventures (a B Corporation established by CDI) supplemented by philanthropy. CDI Ventures is the home of cyber café and consulting enterprises whose revenues and social mission are part of CDI’s over-arching work.

    As the son of an information management specialist, Rodrigo Baggio learned about computers early. As a teenager, he volunteered helping street children and mobilizing workers for a day nursery in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. At that time, the technology revolution was having a tremendous impact on Brazil, yet, Rodrigo saw it creating another social divide, instead of opportunities for all. He set about to combine his desire to improve the lives of the poor with his passion for technology. In 1995, with a collection of secondhand computers and volunteer teachers, he founded CDI to teach people how to use technology to improve their communities and their lives. CDI applies three main models in its work with low-income communities: 1) building self-managed community centers that serve as non-formal teaching hubs for children and adults to learn marketable technology skills, 2) an accessible network of internet cafes; and 3) social innovation hubs -- community centers, incubation labs, and tech-for-good curriculum – that enable entrepreneurial learning as community members and students design tech-based solutions for common challenges. At the time of the Award, CDI was active throughout Brazil and at a few sites in neighboring countries, and was preparing to expand internationally. It model blended technology education with was civic engagement and learning, for example, learning Microsoft Word by creating a table of constitutional rights, or becoming fluent with an Excel spreadsheet by working on a community organization budget. Over time the model has become more focused on outcomes related to job skills, employment, and community entrepreneurship.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • 87,876 graduates in information and communications technology and active citizenship courses across 821 Community Centers in 13 countries.
    • 250,000 users of ICT services.
    • 6,500 cyber cafes serving as centers of digital inclusion and social services.
    • 780 digital inclusion spaces in 13 countries, giving more than 1.54 million people access to the Internet, many for the first time. The centers are run by members of the community and focus on teaching marketable skills.

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