As PHLConnectED extends for a third year, it will focus on two key priorities: 

  • Continuing to connect Philadelphia pre-K–12 families in need to free internet access through Comcast’s Internet Essentials or a T-Mobile hotspot; and 
  • Providing resources for digital skill-building. 

When PHLConnectED launched in the summer of 2020, it focused on providing free internet access for students to participate in virtual learning during the pandemic. As we move forward, the City recognizes that internet access is essential for students to take part in their education—remote or not. 

Having devices and internet access is also not enough. People need to know how to use them. Digital literacy is when you have the skills to use digital technology to live, learn, and work. The pandemic highlighted that caregivers need digital skills to support their students with school.  

PHLConnectED’s digital skill-building work focuses on pre-K–12 caregivers to reduce the homework gap and build stronger educational supports for students. PHLConnectED launched two grants to fund organizations to help caregivers build their digital skills. 

The Caregiver Digital Literacy Initiative Grant 

The PHLConnectED Caregiver Digital Literacy Initiative Grant asked organizations to create a regular schedule of digital skills classes for any pre-K–12 caregiver or family member to improve their skills to better support the students in their household. 

Here’s what organizations have proposed: 

  • The Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia (CAGP) will host a program of activities that are in-person (and virtually, as needed) in South Philadelphia. It will primarily work with Francis Scott Key Elementary School and Furness High School to reach caregivers. It will expand its current digital literacy work with the School District of Philadelphia’s Cambodian and immigrant caregivers. 
  • Congreso de Latinos Unidos will partner with Julia De Burgos Elementary School and Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts to provide support for caregivers. It will offer digital literacy workshops to caregivers in eastern North Philadelphia. Congreso has impressive experience working with low-income community members and English language learners. 
  • The ExCITe Center at Drexel University will primarily work in the Promise Zone, comprised of 26 different childcare centers and nine public schools. Additionally, the ExCITe Center will work with St. Christopher’s Hospital with community engagement and outreach to families that may need digital skills support. 
  • Girls, Inc. will partner with the William D. Kelley School and Clara Barton Elementary to offer digital skills classes. Girls, Inc. will also provide digital skills classes at its office for caregivers who find that location convenient. 
  • The People’s Emergency Center (PEC) will support its community in West Philadelphia. It will partner with Martha Washington Elementary and Paul Robeson High School to conduct digital literacy assessments, one-on-one instruction, and virtual classes for caregivers in West Philadelphia. 
  • The Intergenerational Center at Temple University (IGC) will offer digital literacy courses to pre-K-8 caregivers in North Philadelphia—specifically in 19133 and 19121. It will partner with Potter Thomas and James G. Blaine School. IGC will provide activities and outreach in multiple languages, recruit bilingual college students to serve as digital literacy coaches, and offer translated materials. 

The School-Based Caregiver Digital Supports Grant 

The PHLConnectED School-Based Caregiver Digital Supports Grant provides funding for school-based programs that help caregivers better understand and use commonly used digital tools within their school community. 

These groups received funding for this work: 

  • Caring People Alliance will create a Digital Workshop Program that teaches tech skills to caregivers so they can better support children during virtual learning. Topics will include hosting and joining virtual meetings, accessing the School District of Philadelphia’s Parent Portal, registering for kindergarten, and more. One-on-one technical assistance sessions will also be available. 
  • Esperanza Academy Charter School (EACS) will offer bi-monthly digital literacy skill workshops for caregivers and offer after-hours and out-of-school time support for one-on-one help to families.  
  • Global Leadership Academy Charter School will offer remote and in-person personalized group workshops for caregivers. Topics will include an introduction to Chromebooks and iPads, navigating parent portals, and using other digital learning programs. 
  • Masjid Al-Wasatiyah Wal-Itidaal is partnering with Independence Charter School West to serve families in Southwest Philadelphia. Masjid Al-Wasatiyah will offer small in-person group workshops as well as training through Whatsapp Messenger. Workshops will teach caregivers how to use learning platforms, access websites, how to log into portals, and more.  
  • The Intergenerational Center at Temple University (IGC) is partnering with the Potter-Thomas School to provide online and virtual tech support, basic computer and software workshops, and one-on-one digital support services for caregivers. 

Stay tuned 

Additionally, Digital Navigators can help caregivers if they need assistance in enrolling in these digital skills classes. As PHLConnectED’s Coordinating Agent, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey manages the Digital Navigator program as well as community-based outreach and the program’s 211 hotline.