Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the Digital Equity Fund is accepting applications from local organizations for grants up to $35,000. In total, the Digital Equity Fund will disperse up to $100,000 to increase equity across all communities and neighborhoods. By providing seed funding to a new round of applicants, the City hopes to identify promising strategies that will help Bostonians access the tools and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. Organizations can apply for funding until March 1, 2019:
“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 supporting more organizations as they address digital equity gaps.”
Created in October 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. The Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO) was awarded a $35,000 grant in 2017 to create a technology audiovisual college course and internship program in partnership with the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology.
“I wanted the students to have a college atmosphere,” said Irene Chan, Square Tech Training and Senior IT administrative services manager. “The students are able to take what they learn at Square Tech, get college credit, and have confidence that they have this training in their background, before they even apply to college.”
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.
The Digital Equity Fund is overseen by the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and an external Fund Council consisting of four members. 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 Digital Equity Fund Council is responsible for reviewing applications and selecting recipients.
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 Wi-Fi hotspots to the Boston Public Library’s lending program; to Boston’s Wicked Free Wi-Fi 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.About the Department of Innovation and Technology
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.