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Centri Tech Foundation awards more than $195,000 in innovation grants to digital equity organizations across five U.S. cities

Centri Tech Foundation is launching the inaugural 2022 Digital Integrators Pilot Program to support innovative digital skills models aimed at building an inclusive digital economy.

WASHINGTONApril 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Centri Tech Foundation (CTF) announced today that community development nonprofit organizations in five U.S. cities were awarded more than $195,000 to foster programmatic innovations that promote a more equitable digital economy. Together, the grantees have demonstrated success in closing the digital divide in BostonDetroitNew YorkPhiladelphia, and Washington, D.C.

CTF’s inaugural 2022 Digital Integrators Pilot Program aims to demonstrate how community-based digital equity organizations can continuously improve and modernize workforce development programs to address digital inequities, particularly within public housing and low-income communities, communities of color, and intergenerational households.

“Universal and equitable access to the digital economy is paramount to progress,” said Laura Mueller-Soppart, Program Director at Centri Tech Foundation. “While there have been significant strides in digital access, adoption, and affordability, the opportunity now is to leverage that work towards a “fourth a,” digital advancement, which aims to promote a genuinely inclusive digital economy.”

The Digital Integrators pilots represent a diverse range of methods and approaches for promoting digital advancement and span a range of cities. According to Census Bureau surveys, 2.9 times as many urban residents experience acute gaps in digital access compared to rural residents. From partnering with local public housing authorities in the Greater Boston area to deploy affordable broadband networks coupled with digital skills training and job opportunities, to modeling a 2-generation digital skills learning program for families in Washington, D.C., the Digital Integrators pilots are tackling a spectrum of challenges cities face to close this gap.

“The historic federal investments in broadband and digital equity create an opportunity for communities to solve for digital access in real and lasting ways,” said Marta UrquillaPresident of Centri Tech Foundation. “We are inspired by the national momentum toward achieving digital equity and proud to collaborate with these organizations to build sustainable and inclusive economic futures.”

The five inaugural 2022 Digital Integrators Pilot Program grantees include:

  • Equitable Internet InitiativeDetroit, Michigan
  • ExCITe Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • LIFT-NYBronx, New York
  • Metropolitan Area Planning CouncilBoston, Massachusetts
  • Byte BackWashington, D.C.

Grantees will participate in a six-month cohort experience and peer exchange facilitated by CTF.

The pilot program will be evaluated in partnership with Dr. Colin Rhinesmith, Director of the Digital Equity Research Center and Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. Results of a qualitative assessment will be published in a report at the end of the pilot period in Fall 2022. The report will highlight replicable and scalable program models to achieve greater digital advancement in cities across the country.

If you would like to interview Centri Tech Foundation or any of the grantees, please contact Connie Jones at (850) 519-2912.

More information about the organizations and their pilot programs is provided below:

Equitable Internet Initiative, Detroit
Works with Detroit communities to build neighborhood-governed community wireless networks, train residents as Digital Stewards, forge local workforce pathways, and support the sustainability of these networks by fostering accessibility, consent, safety, and resilience.

“This generous award will support us in significantly growing and developing our Digital Steward community, enhancing their technical skills, and solidifying sustainable employment pathways and opportunities, said Janice Gates, Director of the Detroit Community Project’s Equitable Internet Initiative. “We look forward to advancing Digital Stewardship and sharing community technology practices within Detroit neighborhoods.”

ExCITe CenterPhiladelphia
Expands the services of the ExCITe Center’s digital equity programming in West Philadelphia by hiring a Digital Navigator Manager from within the community who will work in conjunction with a local public computer lab to provide free digital skills training and mentorship to local residents.

“This new position will provide the hands-on digital skills training and technical assistance needed by community members and community-based organizations that utilize the Dornsife Center. This award is a significant contribution that will assist Drexel University in meeting our digital equity goals,” said Andrew Stutzman, Project Director at the ExCITe Center.

LIFT-NY, New York City
Integrates digital access and continued learning permanently into LIFT’s economic mobility coaching model and, in result, supports more than 500 parents in the LIFT-NY network towards sustainable career pathways reaching more than 2,000 individuals with improved digital access tools and resources over time.

“Funding from Centri Tech Foundation is a pivotal step towards supporting LIFT-NY parents in reaching economic mobility,” said Xiomara Romain, Executive Director, LIFT-NY. “This investment will help strengthen our coaching model by ensuring digital access, literacy and opportunities are deeply embedded into our service delivery.”

Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston
Pilots digital skills programming as part of a series of digital access projects to the residents of 420 units of public housing in the Boston area in collaboration with local community-based and governmental organizations.

“MAPC is excited to work in collaboration with the Centri Tech Foundation to pilot a digital skills and Internet adoption program for public housing residents in our region’s Gateway Cities,” said Metropolitan Area Planning Council Executive Director Marc Draisen. “People don’t need only WIFI access and digital devices – they also need the skills to use digital equipment confidently and to navigate the Internet safely and effectively. The pilot program will help our region’s residents to navigate everyday tasks like job searches, homework, accessing online resources, and digital communication. We’re very excited to get started!”

Byte BackWashington D.C.
Pilots a 2-generation digital skills training model for primary adult caregivers in the home and their dependents at Martha’s Table in Washington D.C. with technical assistance from Urban Alliance’s trained network of local high school interns.

“With funds provided by this award, we’re finally able to launch a new and innovative digital literacy training program that serves adults and their children, helping us close the digital divide of today and tomorrow. We’re also very excited to be partnering with two amazing community partners – Martha’s Table and Urban Alliance – who will be providing further talent and resources to make sure this program is a success,” said Mark Rivera, Director of LatinX Affairs at Byte Back.

 About Centri Tech Foundation
Centri Tech Foundation (CTF), along with a network of community development partners, seeks to connect low-income Americans to high-quality connectivity in the home and digital workforce opportunities in the community. We believe digital advancement is a civil right. To achieve a sustainable future, one where everyone can fulfill their aspirations and thrive, requires an inclusive digital economy. Learn more at centritechfdn.org and follow @centritechfdn on social media.

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