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Digital Equity Fund reopened to accept applications

In total, $250,000 will be awarded to local organizations working to increase digital resources available to Boston residents.

Mayor Kim Janey today announced that the Digital Equity Fund has reopened to accept applications to award $250,000 in grants to Boston-based non-profit organizations working to increase digital equity. The Fund will award grants ranging from $5,000 to $35,000 to organizations working to implement community-based digital equity initiatives, including support for Boston residents needing assistance and training in technology devices, equipment, and internet access. This critical work empowers residents with the skills and resources needed to fully participate in today’s digitally-driven world. This work is being funded in partnership with the City of Boston’s Age Strong Commission and the Department of Innovation and Technology. Organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are encouraged to submit the online application. The deadline to submit applications is Friday, April 30, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. 

Mayor Janey yesterday visited the South End Technology Center, a previous grantee of the Digital Equity Fund.

“As we plan for our city’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also ensure Bostonians have the resources needed to fully participate in our highly digital world, a critical part of addressing economic disparities,” said Mayor Janey. “We look forward to the Digital Equity Fund supporting impactful technology initiatives that will empower Boston communities with the digital skills and technology access they need to succeed.”

To qualify for a grant, nonprofit organizations must be Boston-based and serve Boston residents. Organizations focused on serving neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, based on Boston Public Health Commission data, will be prioritized. These neighborhoods include East Boston, Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Roslindale and Hyde Park. Organizations that are focused on serving the following populations are encouraged to apply: older adults, persons with disabilities, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) or English Language Learner (ELL) students, residents of public housing or rental voucher holders, and/or adult residents who have lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Created in 2017, the Digital Equity Fund provides support to community-based organizations that help Boston residents fully connect and participate in today's media and information landscape. Grant recipients in previous years include Castle Square Tenants Organization, La Alianza Hispana, Mujeres Unidas Avanzando, and South End Technology Center @ Tent City. Projects funded to date have focused on technology audiovisual training for high school students; digital literacy courses covering basic to intermediate computer skills; how to use social media; digital applications for health, online banking, and protecting oneself and family online; and creative engagement in technology and engineering for youth and adults, including those who are formerly incarcerated.

The Digital Equity Fund is overseen by the Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT), in partnership with the Age Strong Commission, and an external Fund Council consisting of four members. The Digital Equity Fund Council is responsible for reviewing applications and making grant recommendations.  Applications will also be reviewed by the Office of Equity to ensure the funding is granted to organizations working with those most impacted by the digital divide.

The City of Boston's Broadband and Digital Equity efforts improve access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet for households and businesses, expand the availability of high-speed Internet in public places, and facilitate ease of access to up-to-date digital tools. The goal of the Digital Equity Fund is to explore ways to build individual and community capacity to: 

  • Use the Internet, digital skills, and digital tools to pursue professional, educational, and civic endeavors;
  • Engage with the Internet safely;
  • Develop needs-responsive, community-driven digital skills-building opportunities;
  • Increase broadband adoption among Bostonians who do not subscribe to this service in the home.

This announcement builds on the City of Boston’s continued efforts to expand digital access to Bostonians. Previously, Boston launched initiatives for WiFi hotspots as part of the Boston Public Library's lending program, the Wicked Free WiFi program, and protections for Net Neutrality rules.

About the Department of Innovation and Technology:

The Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) works to engage and empower residents with up-to-date technology. The Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) oversees and guides all technology-related activities associated with the delivery of products and services managed by every City department. The department provides a strategic framework and direction for leveraging technology to create business value. DoIT centralizes common shared services while offering dedicated, customer-facing teams for each service group to improve service delivery.

About the Age Strong Commission:

The Age Strong Commission works towards making Boston a city that fully embraces aging. Our mission is to enhance the lives of people 55+ with meaningful programs, resources, and connections so we can live and age strong together in Boston. For more than 50 years, we have served constituents as a City department, Council on Aging and Area Agency on Aging. In 2017, the Commission launched its Age-Friendly Action Plan, which is the City's blueprint to make Boston the best city to live and age in. 

About the Equity Cabinet:

The Office of Equity works to embed equity and racial justice into all City planning and operations. The Office focuses on dismantling systemic barriers to achieve racial, gender, health, and socio-economic equality and works to ensure that an equity lens is placed on all programs, policies, and practices of local government.

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