PHILADELPHIA- Digital tablet training for seniors, a journalist-led online platform for teachers and students, and training in how to use online tools to address housing, employment and parenting needs:  three of the eight projects benefiting from Digital Literacy Alliance grants, announced today by Mayor Kenney.

The Digital Literacy Alliance is a broad coalition of institutional stakeholders working to alleviate the digital divide in Philadelphia.  These are the first grants awarded by the Alliance, founded last year with seed funding from Comcast and Verizon.  The eight great winners were chosen from among 101 submissions to the grant-making opportunity announced in January. These grants range from $10k to $25k.

“The term ‘digital divide’ gets used a lot, but it is a very real issue for thousands of Philadelphians,” said Mayor Kenney. “I’m certain that the solution lies in small, community-focused grass roots efforts.  Eight such efforts are getting a jump-start today with these grants, bringing some new hope that a brutal barrier – lack of access to the digital world – will fall in the neighborhoods served by these organizations.”

The Alliance approached its first grant-making opportunity broadly to encourage organizations of all sizes, budgets and missions to submit proposals in the digital literacy space. The Alliance awarded grants to a mix of established and emerging organizations working in diverse neighborhoods and serving unique populations.

“These grants allow the City to build on existing digital literacy initiatives, such as KEYSPOT, by giving organizations further opportunities to develop creative programs in their neighborhoods”, said Andrew Buss, the Innovation Director for the City’s technology office. “We have a nice mix of organizations and ideas in our first granting cycle”.

The eight winners are:

  • Center for Literacy ($23,010) – Center for Literacy will combine face-to-face classroom activities with online courses to better serve English as a Second Language students in Southwest Philadelphia.
  • Generations On Line ($25k) – Generations on Line will introduce interactive tablet training for seniors by partnering with churches, housing developments, and other senior organizations across the City.
  • Lutheran Settlement House ($25k) – The Resources & Resilience Digital Education project will provide homeless mothers with real world training on how to use technology and online tools to address housing, employment and parenting needs.
  • Mighty Writers ($20k) – Mighty Writers will launch Checkology, a journalist-led online platform through which teachers and students learn to differentiate between different kinds of information.
  • PhillyCAM ($15k) – PhillyCAM will offer inter-generational, hands on fellowships in media literacy where participants learn how to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with digital media.
  • SEAMAAC/United Communities joint award ($25k) – This joint initiative between SEAMAAC and United Communities will open a technology lab and offer computer literacy and ESL classes to a diverse population of residents in Southeast Philadelphia.
  • Technology Learning Collaborative ($10k) – This group of digital literacy providers and advocates will present the TLC Series: an annual conference plus four curated trainings for digital literacy professionals.
  • VietLead ($24k) – The VDigiLab will provide a technology center intended to close the severe digital literacy gap that exists due to language capacity among Philadelphia’s Vietnamese community, particularly between younger and older generations.

After this initial round for grants, the Digital Literacy Alliance plans to leverage the seed money to raise additional funds for future grant opportunities.