PHILADELPHIA—The Digital Literacy Alliance (DLA) today announced its Winter 2020 grant cycle recipients. The latest cycle focused on supporting digital literacy and equity programs for immigrants and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) communities across Philadelphia. This round of grants resulted from a funding partnership between the DLA and the Independence Public Media Foundation.

The Winter 2020 grant cycle looked for creative and innovative ideas for connecting digital literacy and equity with relevant needs of the immigrant and LEP populations in the city. Seven organizations offered proposals that resonated with this goal and received funding to bring their programs to life.

“The goal of the Digital Literacy Alliance is to fund and test new ideas that connect digital literacy with Philadelphia’s communities, and this year we’re excited to focus on our immigrant and Limited English Proficiency populations,” said Andrew Buss, Deputy CIO of Innovation Management. “We have a nice mix of organizations in this grant round, focusing on topics from identifying barriers to digital health services to helping small business owners adapt to online platforms. We’re eager to support these efforts and see which ones become models for Philadelphia.”

“We are so pleased to partner with the Digital Literacy Alliance and to support the work of the seven organizations in this grant round,” said Molly de Aguiar, President of the Independence Public Media Foundation. “When people have reliable access to technology and the skills to navigate online spaces with ease, their lives—and all our lives—are immeasurably improved. Our society is richer when people have the freedom to get and stay connected, to communicate with others, and creatively express themselves. We collaborate with the DLA because they understand this and share our vision for digital equity.”

The local groups that received funding are:

Jefferson University and Esperanza Health Center (EHC): Two-Year Grant ($50,000)
This collaborative project—between Jefferson researchers and staff within the EHC Department of Community Health and Wellness—focuses on identifying and addressing barriers to digital readiness among the Latino population served by the EHC. The ultimate goal is to develop interventions tailored to addressing the unique needs of the Latino population to improve digital literacy and successfully engage them in the use of digital health resources, thus reducing disparities in health outcomes among this population.

Penn Asian Senior Services (PASSI): Two-Year Grant ($40,000)
PASSi’s “Helping Seniors Connect” program will help increase older Philadelphians’ digital knowledge and ability to use technology through a combination of group tech-literacy education and individual support. Improving seniors’ tech-literacy will ultimately improve their ability to connect with family members and friends, and access resources online.

Norris Square Community Alliance: Two-Year Grant ($40,000)
Norris Square’s “Connections! (¡Conéctate!)” focuses on connecting adults with the necessary digital tools to connect to services, discover employment opportunities, and navigate through the COVID-19 era. The digital literacy program provides an opportunity for low-income individuals, adults with limited English proficiency, and elderly adults to learn how to navigate websites, create accounts, access and review their emails, apply for job opportunities, connect to conferencing meetings and classrooms, and apply for services.

Philly Community Wireless (PCW): Two-Year Grant ($40,000)
Over the next two years, PCW will partner with residents, nonprofits, and immigrant and LEP communities in Norris Square Park to incubate a new model of community-based network stewardship. In addition to connecting around 100 homes within a one-mile radius to high-speed internet—at no cost to the users—PCW will also host technical training events that empower the community to maintain and grow their free network connection. The goal is to train interested users in the basic principles of network engineering and digital literacy so that they can be stewards of the technology, rather than merely recipients.

African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA): One-Year Grant ($25,000)
ACANA’s “Let’s Zoom In” project aims to address the digital divide amongst African and Caribbean immigrant populations by providing social media education and technical support to small business owners in West and Southwest Philadelphia. The program will provide training on the use of social media (Facebook and Instagram) for business growth and brand awareness, as well as help business owners adapt to online platforms in the face of ever-changing COVID-19 regulations.

Liberty Resources: One-Year Grant ($20,000)
Liberty will adapt their existing “Teach Me English (TME)” classes into a digital program so that its current students can continue their training from a safe, virtual setting. TME classes were formerly taught in-person at Liberty’s facility to Philadelphia’s hearing-impaired community, giving foundational knowledge of the English language to students who previously spoke only American Sign Language.

Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia (CAGP): One-Year Grant ($20,000)
Through “Building Bridges Between Digital Literacy and Community Visibility,” CAGP hopes to empower Cambodian immigrant and refugee community members to become creators. Through exploration and training in digital media and literacy, CAGP will strengthen their population’s digital knowledge, and put new digital skills directly into the hands of community members so that they may advocate for their own visibility and voice through audio, video, and print channels.

The Digital Literacy Alliance is a broad coalition of institutional stakeholders working to alleviate the digital divide in Philadelphia. The DLA develops strategy, manages an existing seed fund, and oversees funded programs. Since its creation in 2017, the Alliance has facilitated and managed six grant cycles, including a census-focused opportunity in 2019 and the creation of the Digital Navigation program in Spring 2020 in response to COVID-19.