Coletivo Digital was founded in 2005 (started articulating its existence in 2004) by ex-employees of the Electronic Government of the Municipality of São Paulo (like Sergio Amadeu da Silveira, Beatriz Tibiriçá, Wilken Sanches) and who wanted to continue ahead promoting digital inclusion projects in free software.
One of their missions stated in the by-law is to democratize knowledge.
Since then they develop and support digital inclusion projects (telecentres) that spread free knowledge and / or free software.
From the very beginning, the main objective was to offer technology services (which keeps fixed costs in technology) - and training (training of instructors working in telecenters). Telecenters are similar to cyber cafés, but they are usually run by governments (either municipal, state or federal) and community members and are set up usually more often in poor areas, where cyber cafés did not use to be very common (now there are cyber cafés – or lanhouses – everywhere, but a couple of year ago that was not that common). Still, telecenters are the only venues where Internet access is free for the population.
Petrobras (major petrol and gas company in Brazil) supported Coletivo Digital training area for two years, in partnership with the RITS (a former huge NGO that provided technology services for other NGOs). Their trainings would include subjects such as how to assemble a governance board to how to deal and train telecenters users in the communities.
And also set up a web portal for the network of telecenters (where they exchange experiences, didactic materials, handouts) and provide network trainings.
Their second project with Petrobras implied centralizing support for many small institutions that couldn't handle the bureaucracy of receiving funds from a public company and state entity. They decided then to focus on trainings for developing sustainability of these organizations (such as seeking resources, sustainability, partnerships etc.), taking digital inclusion as something way beyond using a text editor for writing a resumé.
They also became a Pontão de Cultura1 (a Federal Government public policy), articulating local pontos de cultura, and training them to deal with free software multimedia kit provided by the government.
Since 2010, they've been leading a training to achieve 3 thousand telecenters as a result of a partnership with the Ministries of Communication and Planning. They use distance learning tools, more through a customized version of Moodle, creating an environment for training and for exchange of experiences. They keep a library of didactic materials, a video library, classes and training activities, as well as a community of users who share experience and knowledge. Almost 400 telecenters employees were also trained in presential/in person courses. The only reason why this platform, content and service did not become open is because the Ministtry of Communications wanted to avoid a much larger access than they would be able to deal with.
As a result of an award by the Ministry of Culture, Coletivo Digital also set up another project, called “Intercâmbios sonoros”, a studio that brings community to remix music distributed under Creative Commons licences.
Coletivo Digital has also been responsible for organizing the National Digital Inclusion Workshop, that has happened for 11 years (that used to be organized by the government and hsa been now organized by the civil society), in partnership with the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee.
Coletivo Digital is also responsible for maintaining Perseu Abramo Foundation's server and migration of all computer into linux.
They're now leading three projects - Telecentros.br, Network building in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and Intercâmbios sonoros, and also started organizing the 12th National Digital Inclusion Workshop.
Currently, there are 10 employees and 22 associated members. Their office is in São Paulo.
All their employees are hired under the Brazilian law system (CLT) and salaries are not high in comparison to other non profit organizations.
Their office is in a medium house, in a good neighborhood, with 4 rooms, 1 studio and one art studio plus some space outdoors (hosts up to 50/60 people). There is one empty room that could be used by Wikimedia team (up to 5 people) and one which is often used to host classes and courses (up to 10 people), but use for classroom courses (for course, fit 10 people).
Personnel: they have 2 technology employees, 2 content producers for the educational platforms (one of which is also the General Director) and one executive coordinator. They also have a secretary and an third part accountant).