The digital divide isn’t just about lacking access to computers or the Internet, says the city’s Chief Service Officer Catherine Wolfgang. It’s about having the ability to engage with technology.
Digital literacy and our traditional notion of literacy — reading and writing — are no longer separate, Wolfgang says.
A new program run by the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, which Wolfgang heads, aims to tackle that problem. Spurred by a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies‘ Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund, Technology Tutors Today is one of two volunteer programs the city will launch next year. The grant money is being split equally between the two programs (the other will be run by the city’s PhillyRising initiative). Updated, see above
The city will start looking for volunteers in the new year. Follow along here for updates.
Technology Tutors Today, in partnership with the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy and Drexel University, which invested $10,000 and in-kind support staff for the program, will look like this: Volunteers from the community will meet with learners in one of five local KEYSPOT public computing centers and work on using technology as a tool to improve the learners’ literacy skills. That could mean learning how to apply for a job online or studying for the GED with online tools.
The program, developed by Wolfgang’s office and her team of Americorps VISTAs, will launch this spring. Wolfgang hopes to grow it in its second year and make the program last after the grant runs out. This might be easier to do given the smaller group of partners –compared to the KEYSPOT initiative and its more than two dozen partners who are breaking off into groups to make smaller projects sustainable.
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