One thing that all digital equity advocates know is that it’s not just about handing out devices to those who don’t have them. It’s also ensuring that people have affordable access to the internet and the digital literacy skills to use the technology.
Before Technical.ly wraps up Broadband Connectivity Month, here is a roundup of organizations and programs in Philadelphia that are doing the work to ensure all residents can connect.
TLC is a local organization that advocates for digital equity and access. The nonprofit brings together organizations focused on digital literacy, media literacy, workforce development and technology access.
PCW started in 2020 to bring free internet access to neighborhoods in North Philly. The org installed Wi-Fi extenders and antennas throughout the Norris Square neighborhood in 2021 to provide internet access to anyone in range. PCW continues to work toward affordable internet access for all.
The Digital Equity Center grew out of Temple’s computer recycling program, where students would refurbish old devices and give them back to the Temple community. In addition to giving out devices, the Digital Equity Center also offers digital literacy classes and help desk support.
OIT supports the City of Philadelphia’s tech initiatives, including digital equity programs. Examples include the City’s campaign for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and the City’s five-year digital equity plan, which focuses on access to devices, affordable internet, digital skills and building an ecosystem that can support those goals.
This coalition is run by the City and includes stakeholders from government, nonprofits and companies that support continuing digital equity in the city. DLA funds digital equity programs and develops best practices for digital inclusion programming and policy.
This national nonprofit announced this spring that it would be building a presence here in Philly. The organization provides low-cost or free devices for people who need them. PCs for People plans to open a storefront in Philly where people can purchase devices and receive tech support.
The Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center at Drexel University seeks to connect communities to technology. Part of this mission is through digital equity as one of the organizations in the city that runs a digital navigators program.
The Digital Navigator program connects Philadelphians with trained professionals who can provide tech support and digital resources. This program works through SEAMAAC, the ExCITe Center and Beyond Literacy.
PHLConnectED supports pre-K-12 families in Philadelphia with access to the internet. This includes assistance applying for ACP, connections to digital navigators and support through the 211 resource hotline.
Did we miss any? Email email@example.com to share who else is working on digital equity in Philadelphia.Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
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