The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced that the National Digital Equity Center (NDEC) will be one of 18 organizations that will launch the National Digital Navigator Corps.
The grant is part of a $10 million investment from Google.org, which will support the hiring of community-based digital navigators alongside programmatic and technical support to further develop NDIA’s digital navigator model for rural and Tribal communities. Digital navigators at the 18 selected sub-grantee organizations, including NDEC, will help thousands of residents gain much-needed access to the internet, devices, and digital skills training.
NDEC will use the $365,263 grant to hire, train, and support two half-time digital navigators, who will serve Washington County and the two tribal communities located in that community over a two-and-a-half-year period. NDEC seeks to help clients develop the digital skills required to improve employment opportunities, attend school, seek virtual healthcare options, pay their bills online, and change their financial situation while joining other institutions working to expand the reach of high-speed internet access in Washington County.
“NDEC is delighted and honored to join with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Sunrise County Economic Council, and the Maine Connectivity Authority, to champion digital equity and inclusion efforts. This collaboration will be significant to the rural and Tribal communities of Washington County and the people we serve, as well as act as a model digital navigator program for the state. We look forward to supporting growth through access, education, and encouragement” said Susan Corbett, Executive Director, NDEC.
Ernie Neptune, Vice Chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe said, “This endeavor will provide digital skills classes to help bridge the gap to our tribal members through connection to the internet, access to computer devices, and digital skills. This will allow and enhance the civic, health, economic, and education to further develop employment goals to Tribal Members.
Jen Peter from Sunrise County Economic Council said, “The Sunrise County Economic Council provides a wide array of broadband support to communities in Washington County, and will continue to ensure that communities are informed of the spectrum of digital equity and digital skills services provided by NDEC and the new digital navigators”.
“This award is a critical boost to Washington County’s capacity to proactively address digital disparities and is a testament to the leadership and vision of the National Digital Equity Center in bringing the digital navigator program to Maine,” said Andrew Butcher, President of the Maine Connectivity Authority.
“These grants are about more than just funding. By launching the National Digital Navigator Corps, we are extending the digital navigator model to areas of the United States lacking resources,” said Angela Siefer, executive director of NDIA. “These digital navigators will open doors to residents to transform their lives by engaging in online opportunities, including education, workforce, citizen participation, and social activities.”