Seattle pumps $400K into digital literacy through annual grant program

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Each year, Seattle awards funding to community organizations to help low-income populations get connected to the internet and learn how to use technology. This week, City Council approved $400,000 through the city’s Technology Matching Fund to be distributed to 12 organizations that reach an estimated 8,300 residents with poor access to technology.

This year’s funding represents fewer, but larger, grants for organizations whose applications were scored highly by the city during the evaluation process, said Delia Burke, program manager for the fund. The city received 46 applications, she said, which included a lot of exciting and interesting programs, but these 12 were selected because the city believes this where it can make the “deepest impact.”

“People are using technology in so many ways today — to find jobs, to help support their children in their education, to really interact with family members,” Burke told StateScoop. “It’s so pervasive and many people, unfortunately, are not able to participate due to not being able to afford the technology or not having the skills to know how to use it. These grants are so important to those folks who are left out.”

The groups receiving funds include those running technology programs serving immigrants, refugees, seniors, young people, and people with disabilities. Grantees are required to partially match the grants with donations of software, hardware, and services. In total, the city says groups will supply $300,000 in matching resources.

“We inch closer to digital equity each year when we allocate this funding,” Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell said in a press release. “I’m especially pleased to see this funding package emphasizes programs that work with adults and youths experiencing homelessness.”

This group of grantees are addressing important local issues, Burke said. At least two organizations — Millionair Club Charity and YouthCare — are leading programs designed to help homeless residents by providing jobs skills training.

The Technology Matching Fund was created in 1998 and has since awarded more than $4.6 million to organizations, funding more than 300 projects. The grants are funded through the city’s broadband franchise agreements.

The 2018 Seattle Matching Grant recipients:

  • Community Passageways: Technology Equity for Young Adults of Color
  • East African Community Services: 2018 Technology Matching Fund
  • Garinagu HounGua: Garifuna Digital Literacy Workshop Series
  • Helping Link: Mobile Computer and iPad Literacy Lab
  • Literacy Source: Open Doors – Increasing Basic Digital Literacy
  • Millionair Club Charity: Computer Lab Expansion/Update
  • PROVAIL: Adaptive Technology for Children with Disabilities
  • Seattle Neighborhood Group: Building Our Bridge: Crossing the Digital Divide
  • Somali Family Safety Task Force: 2018 Digital Literacy in West Seattle
  • South East Effective Development: Technology Builds Community
  • United Indians of All Tribes Foundation: Broadband and Public Computer/Internet Access
  • YouthCare: Employment Technology Supports for Homeless Youth

Seattle isn’t alone in handing out such funds — Philadelphia recently announced similar grants for its digital literacy project.

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Education & STEM, Seattle, State & Local News, technology matching fund
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