Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Awards eight programs

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by Ann Treacy • Thanks to Ann Higgins for the heads up on the latest news from the Digital Inclusion Fund Advisory Board. They have awarded nearly $200,000 in Digital Inclusion Fund grants to eight community organizations to help support technology access and literacy in Minneapolis.

Blandin on Broadband offers information on broadband use, access, and trends especially in rural Minnesota. Sponsored by the Blandin Foundation and their Broadband Initiative.

Here are the deserving winners:

* Casa de Esperanza — $20,000 for the Centro de Información y Recursos, which offers free Internet and technology access located at the Mercado Central.

* Common Bond Communities — $30,000 for technology access and literacy efforts at Seward Towers East and West.

* Employment Action — $30,000 for software and equipment for the Community Technology Center to assist new Americans in Web-based English language learning program. (I think that’s the right link)

* Library Foundation of Hennepin County — $24,676 for technology training in Hmong, Somali and Spanish at four Minneapolis libraries.

* Minnesota Computers for Schools — $8,000 for distribution of refurbished laptop computers to students in a low-income area of Minneapolis, with tech support from student “tech teams” that have been trained in computer maintenance and operation.

* PACER Center — $30,000 for technology access and literacy training for low-income people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, and refugees.

* Patchwork Quilt — $30,000 for the incorporation of computer literacy into all programs as well as computer software skills training for residents of north Minneapolis. (Again I think this is the right link)

* St. Paul Neighborhood Network – $20,000 for digital literacy training and workforce readiness preparation at nine Minneapolis agencies.

Yesterday, Scott Wallsten spoke at the Task Force meeting. One of the things that struck me was that he said if you want to increase use of broadband you had to get folks with lower incomes using technology. I think these programs go a long way towards that effort.

Scott also intimated that if you want to get the sheer volumes using technology, it makes sense to go urban where the population density is high. I think we could expand that to reach rural folks too to help with a geographic spread and to lessening of the digital divide.