While Seattle is renowned for its role as a global tech hub, many communities in the city still have little or no access to technology. For citizens who are homeless, members of refugee communities, or simply down on their luck, accessing technology developed just down the street can be a huge struggle.
Two years ago, the City of Seattle launched the Digital Equity initiative to combat this tech gap, and today the city announced the most recent addition to that initiative. The city will award $320,000 to 10 programs aimed at increasing digital equity among underrepresented Seattle citizens, as part of the annual Technology Matching Fund.
The winning programs were chosen from 41 applicants, and are each hosted by a local organization.
One program, hosted by the native advocacy group Na’ah Illahee Fund, is a year-long coding program for native girls. Another, hosted by disability nonprofit Full Life Care, will establish a mobile computer lab for citizens in Seattle Housing Authority communities.
All told, the funding will support over 2,500 residents in traditionally underrepresented or underserved populations, including homeless youth, seniors, refugees, and those with disabilities.
The office of Mayor Ed Murray announced the new funds this morning, and full approval by the City Council is expected on September 6. Murray said the funds are an investment in the people of Seattle, and particularly those who are underserved.
“Technology impacts nearly every facet of our lives, from finding jobs to thriving in school,” Murray said in the release. “Our investment in these community driven projects will open the door to greater success for Seattleites who lack sufficient technology access and essential digital skills.”
This years’ winning organizations and programs are:
Children’s Home Society of Washington/North Seattle Family Center — Lake City Court Computer Resources for All
Coalition for Refugees from Burma — Digital Literacy for Immigrant/Refugee Parents
Community & Parents for Public Schools — Parent Volunteer Technology Mentorship
El Centro de la Raza — Mobile Computer Lab
Full Life Care — Mobile Lab Project for Unserved Communities
Multimedia Resources Training Institute — Equipment Upgrade for Mobile and Studio Multimedia
Na’ah Illahee Fund — Native Girls Code
New Horizons — Computer Literacy Training
SightConnection — Digital Training for the Visually Impaired
Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle — Summer University for African American Students