Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and the commonwealth’s Department of Labor and Industry announced about $900,000 in grant funding Thursday to support digital-literacy and job-training programs in communities that lack access to high-speed internet.
This is the fourth round of funding through the state’s Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grant, which has released funding annually since 2020. According to the state labor department’s website, this round — open for applications until June 9 — will focus on supporting projects that already received the grant in 2021. Applicants can be awarded up to $45,000 through July 2024.
This grant program, which is federally funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, is designed to help implement programs and strategies that increase learning opportunities for digital fundamentals, digital citizenship and understanding digital information in poorly connected communities.
Programs that received the grant last year include a digital literacy project in Philadelphia run by the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition; a nonprofit in Allegheny County called Computer Reach; and the William Jeanes Memorial Library’s purchase of technology and curriculum to start a digital literacy course in Montgomery County.
“As job requirements continue to evolve, the need for digital literacy has increased. It is our duty to ensure Pennsylvania workers are well-equipped with the skills needed to be successful in the modern labor market,” acting Pennsylvania Labor Secretary Nancy Walker said in a news release. “This grant program not only helps address critical barriers to employment but empowers workers to maintain family-sustaining jobs.”
The Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grant program began under former Gov. Tom Wolf, whose administration laid out plans for the hundreds of millions of dollars the state is expected to receive over the next five years through the the National Telecommunications and Information Association’s $42.5 billion Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment program.
The latest grant funding also comes as Shapiro’s administration builds out its Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience, or CODE PA, which has been tasked with making the state’s services more modern and user-friendly.