By Michelle Xiarhos Curran
ECCF Communications Writer
The latest round of partnership grants awarded by Essex County Community Foundation is supporting organizations advancing digital equity and bridging the digital divide.
More than $300,000 has been granted to five nonprofits, each working collaboratively with a host of partners to solve challenges at the intersection of technology and education, workforce development and more.
“Our coalition and ecosystem of partners have been working tirelessly to ensure access to computers, internet and literacy reaches everyone that needs it,” said Kate Machet, ECCF’s director of strategic initiatives and government relations. “We need technology to navigate daily life, access critical services and to thrive in school and at work.”
“Collaboration in this space has elevated new ideas, targeted more populations and is helping to ensure that no one gets left behind,” added Machet. “Technology is essential and the opportunity to access it is equity.”
The partnership grants are a component of Advancing Digital Equity, ECCF’s multi-year, $3 million commitment to empower all residents with the access, education and equipment necessary to successfully navigate our increasingly digital world. Programs supported by the grants, listed below, focus on low-income populations and communities of color, where the needs are greatest.
- Haverhill Promise for an online program to prepare students for kindergarten in Haverhill, where only 11% of children attend Pre-K. Grant partners include: Community Action Inc., MakeIt Haverhill, Haverhill Public Schools, TEK Collaborative, Haverhill YMCA, the Haverhill Early Learning Leadership Team and the City of Haverhill.
- MakeIt Haverhill to advance adoption of the Affordable Connectivity Program and expand digital equity wraparound services, like advanced and tailored digital literacy classes in both English and Spanish. Grant partners include UTEC, Tech Goes Home, TEK Collaborative, City of Haverhill, Northern Essex Community College, MassHire Merrimack Valley, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, Haverhill Latino Coalition, Comcast, Mass Broadband Institute and Lead for America/American Community Corp.
- North Shore Community Development Coalition in Salem to formalize and expand existing digital equity infrastructure in The Point neighborhood by hiring and training community ambassadors, who will promote digital equity services. Grant partners include Tech Goes Home, TEK Collaborative, ECCF, small businesses, the Point Neighborhood Association, Punto Urban Art Museum and more.
- Citizens Inn in Peabody for a digital navigator program to implement the Work and Family Mobility Act, which allows Massachusetts residents to apply for driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status. Grant partners include TEK Collaborative, the MA Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the cities of Peabody, Lynn and Salem, and Governor Healey’s Latino Empowerment Advisory Council.
- Citizens Inn, to expand their transitional WiFi hotspot program – which provides hotspots to families moving from shelter to permanent housing – to migrant families. Grant partners include TEK Collaborative, Verizon and Comcast.
- Healing Abuse Working for Change to provide free devices and one year of internet service to individuals impacted by intimate partner violence. Grant partners include TEK Collaborative and Verizon.
“We believe very deeply in the power of collaboration and these cross-sector partnerships are critical to the long-term sustainability and success of Advancing Digital Equity in Essex County,” said ECCF President and CEO Beth Francis.
“Organizations that work together to solve problems not only increase the impact of their collective efforts, but they also form connections and partnerships that last, creating a solid system of support that is ready to face whatever challenges come next,” Francis added.
For more information about Advancing Digital Equity, ECCF’s work to bridge the digital divide in Essex County, please visit www.eccf.org/digital-equity/.