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COVID-19 / Digital access / Digital Literacy Alliance / Funding / Municipal government

A Digital Literacy Alliance grant is creating roles to help residents access and use tech during the pandemic

Three organizations will receive $30,000 to support the "digital navigators" and increase access to computers and internet.

City Hall in summertime. ( Zeglen)

The City of Philadelphia announced this week that the Digital Literacy Alliance (DLA) will be granting $90,000 to three organizations in order to create a position it’s calling a “digital navigator.”

The aim of this role is to help residents with digital literacy by accessing and using technology and the internet, said the DLA, a 19-organization funding collective born out of the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia.

“This pandemic has made clear the importance of digital and internet access to our residents and our communities,” said Deputy Chief Information Officer for Innovation Andrew Buss in a statement.

The grants will fund one or more digital navigators who will help resident access affordable internet and tech options, train in digital literacy and apply for low-cost or free computers. The role is currently being developed with guidance from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and will help get people connected remotely.

The three organizations — Community Learning Center, which helps economically disadvantaged adults in Philadelphia develop their academic and employment skills; the ExCITe Center at Drexel University, which fosters technical expertise with creativity; and SEAMAAC, which support immigrants, refugees, and other marginalized communities — were each chosen to receive $30,000.

Of that, $25,000 will go toward supporting the digital navigator service and $5,000 will help the grantees offer increased access to computers, the City said.

Once the services are established, the DLA will announce how residents can get in touch for assistance accessing and connecting to the internet.

The DLA’s last grant project focused on supporting Philly’s census initiative, Philly Counts.

“The Digital Literacy Alliance joins other local foundations in responding to the Covid-19 crisis and seeks to directly address Philadelphia’s digital access and equity challenges,” Buss said. “We look forward to seeing how our three grantees can develop and adapt this work to best help communities in need.”

Companies: City of Philadelphia / ExCITe Center

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