Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that three Boston non-profit organizations – La Alianza Hispana, Mujeres Unidas Avanzando, and South End Technology Center – will receive $100,000 in grants combined through the City of Boston’s Digital Equity Fund. The Digital Equity Fund was first created by the Department of Innovation and Technology in October 2017 as a way to provide support to community-based organizations that help Boston residents digitally participate in today’s society, which is increasingly reliant on technology.
“Providing resources to local organizations will help residents across Boston access high-speed internet and gain new digital skills,” said Mayor Walsh. “We are proud that since the creation of the fund, we have tripled its size to serve even more Boston residents. We look forward to these organizations improving residents’ lives, and creating more opportunities for all.”Awardees include:
La Alianza Hispana vows to empower individuals and strengthen the Latino community by leveraging partnerships to provide social, educational, and health services, and technology resources.
Mujeres Unidas Avanzado focuses on helping Latinas who have been on the outskirts of society-whether low-income, formerly incarcerated, or living in shelters. They help these individuals become self-sufficient and assume leadership roles within the community.
The South End Technology Center facilitates the use of technology in ways that encourage individuals to become innovators and producers, tell their own stories, and learn ways of creating just, and humane communities. The Technology Center helps residents who are at an increased risk of joblessness.
The City of Boston is committed to digital access and skill-building for all residents. In fiscal year 2019, the City increased the grantmaking power of the Digital Equity Fund from $35,000 to $100,000. Grant recipients have a common goal: to support Bostonians in developing new digital skills and the ability to navigate online resources. Newly funded programs include creative engagement in technology and engineering, courses that teach low-income, Latino immigrant seniors about the use of the internet and computers, and digital literacy classes with a focus on how to protect yourself and others online.
“It is never too late to learn the ins and outs of technology and help individuals open their eyes to a new tool,” Marisol Amaya-Aluigi, Executive Director of La Alianza Hispana said. “We are honored to receive this grant and so excited to use this money to help constituents in the Boston community.”
The Digital Equity Fund is over seen by the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and the Digital Equity Fund Council, an external group that is responsible for reviewing applications and selecting recipients. Fund Council members are appointed by Mayor Walsh and serve three-year terms. To qualify for a grant, nonprofit organizations must be Boston-based and serve Boston residents.
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 and securely; develop needs-responsive, community-driven digital skills building opportunities, and increase broadband adoption among Bostonians who do not subscribe to this service in the home.
During the first year of this grant program, 2018, the Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO) was awarded a $35,000 grant to create a technology audiovisual college course and internship program in partnership with the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology.
Mayor Walsh has been committed to bringing more equity and choice to residents throughout Boston, from launching Boston’s first-ever Digital Equity Fund; to bringing WiFi hotspots to the Boston Public Library’s lending program; to Boston’s Wicked Free WiFi program; to working to protect Net Neutrality rules that ensure a fair and open internet.
In addition, in November 2018, Mayor Walsh and Verizon announced a new partnership that will accelerate Boston’s plan to be one of the most technologically advanced cities in the nation, giving residents more choice. Building on the partnership formed in 2016, Verizon will expand its local wireless network speed and capacity to its local 4G LTE network, expand Fios internet and cable television to all neighborhoods in Boston, and collaborate with Boston on Smart Communities solutions.
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 Department of Innovation and Technology makes sure the networks, computers and systems that support the City are secure and effective. They also manage the City’s websites and technologies focused on service delivery.