Digital Equity Grant Program
The City of Colorado Springs awarded almost $800,000 in digital equity grants to seven non-profits in Colorado Springs to help bridge the digital divide in the community. The City’s Office of Innovation oversaw the distribution of the grants from the City’s allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act.
Local public and private non-profit organizations will use the funds to help provide programs and services to create greater digital equity for historically underserved communities across the city. To receive grant funding from the City, the programs need to help provide connected devices or adequate digital skills to those who have been more negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased digitization seen in its aftermath.
“Whether it is applying for a new job, going to school, or accessing needed services, having access to the digital devices and the skills to use them is critical in the digital age, especially since COVID-19,” said Carlos Tamayo, innovation manager for the City. “Closing the digital divide in Colorado Springs can only happen with the collaboration of our partners and we are proud to have funded eight different programs focused on digital equity.”
The programs were chosen by an evaluation committee with diverse city experts who reviewed the applications against standard parameters. Future activities beyond this initial award will be funded through other sources to be determined in future years.
Grant Program Focus Areas
1. Access to connected devices
Use of the internet requires a capable, connected device. Proposed projects in this Focus Area shall expand access to connected devices, such as laptops and tablets. Proposed projects shall aim to meet the current and future technological needs for our community and may include expansion of patron amenities available at existing locations, creation of entirely new spaces for residents to access connected devices, device lending programs, or other creative solutions.
2. Digital skills training
Even with reliable broadband access and a connected device, some residents may not be able to effectively utilize the internet and connected devices because they do not currently possess sufficient digital skills. Proposed projects in this Focus Area shall aim to design and implement digital skills training courses. The objective is to create and offer classes or one-on-one training to teach residents computer and internet basics.
3. Technical support
Some users may experience specific technical issues with the internet and devices and may need one-on-one or small group technical support to resolve these issues. Proposed projects in this Focus Area shall provide this technical support to ensure residents’ devices continue to function correctly.
Geographic Priority Areas
The neighborhoods of Downtown (especially south of Cimarron St.), Hillside, Stratton Meadows, East Lake, Valley Hi, Pikes Peak Park North, Pikes Peak Park South, Southborough, Deerfield Hills, Soaring Eagles, and the municipal parks and facilities within these neighborhoods, shall serve as the initial Service Area for the Program prior to expansion to additional Colorado Springs neighborhoods.
Digital Equity Awardees
Boys and Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region – The proposed program helps build foundational technology skills for youth, such as online safety, typing, web search, media collaboration, coding, and gaming. The program also provides digital recognition and certification, allowing youth to track exactly which skills they have gained throughout the program.
Catholic Charities of Central Colorado – The proposed program will help clients use employment resources that involve electronic navigation. This includes things like Zoom interviewing, uploading documents, job searching and creating accounts (email) that are necessary to obtaining employment.
CommunityWorks – The proposed program will provide training and education to participants surrounding basic core competencies of computer literacy, as well as provide supportive services to aid and assist participants in seeking gainful employment through use of technology.
Centro de la Familia – The proposed program will help clients attain English language skills, learn more about accessing their local governments & social resources while also helping them access devices and acquire additional digital literacy skills to participate in community building, the workforce, education, and civic life.
Solid Rock Community Development Corporation – The proposed program will address digital disparity through implementation of a Digital Community Hub, helping to increase access to computers and the internet, and by also providing digital literacy and skills training.
Pikes Peak Library District Foundation – The proposed program will extend Wi-Fi signals and install outdoor remote lockers at four library locations throughout the district to improve the circulation of Chromebooks to patrons after hours and access to the Internet.
Silver Key Senior Services – The proposed program is a multi-pronged program to help break through the technology barrier preventing seniors from utilizing computers, tables, smart phones and the internet to solve life’s many challenges.