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City of Seattle awards community organizations funds to support digital equity needs

More than two dozen language groups to benefit from $545,000 in grant funds

The City of Seattle is pleased to announce the annual Technology Matching Fund (TMF) award recipients for 2024. This year, 18 community organizations will receive $545,000 in Technology Matching Fund awards to provide digital equity programs and services to Seattle residents facing barriers to accessing and adopting technology. Additionally, Comcast is providing $59,500 in corporate support to help fund more projects through the program. An estimated 3,130 residents, spanning 25 language groups, will be served Citywide through these projects.  

“I’m thrilled to announce these investments for critical technology projects within our community. Equitable access to digital skills and tools is essential to our One Seattle vision, ensuring good jobs and learning opportunities are available to every person in every neighborhood,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “This program demonstrates that when we work together through strong public-private-community partnerships, we can reach diverse populations who need help the most and make progress closing the digital divide.” 

A recent City study sheds light on the ongoing need for additional funding and programs to address digital inequalities. The 2024 Technology Access and Adoption Study revealed a significant digital divide for low-income households, older adults, residents with disabilities, BIPOC populations, and immigrants and refugees: 

  • An estimated 22% of individuals reported that they lacked competence in basic digital skills. 
  • An estimated 17,000 households have fewer than one internet-enabled device per household member. 
  • An estimated 8123 households have no way to access the internet at home. 

 “This year, the variety of proposed digital programming stemming from these funds will give many of our residents the skills they need. Whether it’s getting a modem and laptop for their homes so they can apply for jobs, or learning email so they can communicate with their child’s teacher, it’s all so empowering for them,” said Councilmember Joy Hollingsworth, Chair of the Parks, Public Utilities and Technology Committee. “Giving people these skills removes barriers they face as they work to build strong foundations for their families in our city.” 

Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund grant program offers up to $35,000 for qualifying non-profit organizations with digital equity projects. Applicants must match at least 25% of their funding request with cash, time, or other contributions. This year’s community match for these projects is $391,260. 

“Technology is a constant evolution, and it’s hard for anyone to keep up with all the changes, upgrades, new gadgets, and apps. But if you don’t have basic digital skills, you’re behind before you even start,” said Seattle’s Interim Chief Technology Officer Jim Loter. “Our yearly Technology Matching Fund grant program gives people not only a start but a strong boost to gain the skills and confidence to navigate this way of our life.” 

This year, 37 organizations submitted applications requesting a total of $1,131,000. Those not selected for this round of funding are eligible to submit again during the next cycle of funding. Below is a list of the award recipients for the 2024 funding cycle. 

Casa Latina – $35,000 *funded by Comcast 

Digital Literacy Program for Latinx Immigrant Workers provides digital navigator services and digital literacy classes for Latino immigrant workers to develop basic digital literacy skills.  

Dabuli – $24,500 *funded by Comcast 

The Technology for All project provides digital literacy training to immigrants, refugees, and seniors in the Seattle area, including general workshops on technology use and deeper training on specific technologies such as the Microsoft Office suite.  

Eritrean Community in Seattle and Vicinity – $35,000 

The Technology for the ECISV project supports the technological needs of newly immigrated Eritreans, Eritrean youth, and Eritrean elders through the distribution of laptops, tablets, and hotspots along with access to information for the safety and health of the Eritrean community. 

Ethnic Cultural Heritage Exchange – $30,000  

DIGITIZE provides digital literacy instruction with culturally responsive support services to give youth and young adults a platform for building confidence in their expression of identity and heritage and sharing their “own voices” and impactful stories through digital storytelling. 

Evergreen Goodwill of Northwest Washington – $35,000 

Digital Device Access and Navigation provides access to computers, in-person digital navigation, basic digital skills training, and technology assistance to support those furthest from economic opportunity. 

KD Hall Foundation – $35,000 

Elevating Future Female Tech Leaders through Digital Literacy provides a holistic approach that empowers women and girls by fostering skills, confidence, and inclusivity through digital literacy workshops, devices, technical support, and internet connectivity. 

Lao Senior Outreach – $25,000 

Lao Seniors Connect provides mobile devices, digital literacy skills training, and technical support to Lao-Southeast Asian seniors, enhancing their digital skills, increasing their access to information and opportunities, reducing their social isolation and loneliness, and improving their quality of life.  

Literacy Source – $35,000 

Classes and Training for Adults provides basic digital skills training to individuals and small groups of adults impacted by racial, economic, and digital disparities. 

Local Connectivity Lab – $35,000 

Seattle Community Network (SCN) provides smartphones and laptops with free mobile data and Wi-Fi using the Citizens’ Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) LTE wireless network, providing internet access for low-income and housing-unstable groups.  

Oromo Cultural Center – $35,000 

Digital Navigator Project provides a team of bilingual digital navigators in Oromo, Somali, Amharic, and English, addressing the unique cultural, linguistic, and economic challenges these communities face in accessing digital resources and technology and using online resources for education, employment, and civic participation. 

Path with Art – $35,000 

Digital Accessibility and Equity provides multidisciplinary arts engagement, community building, access to devices and the internet, and individualized technology assistance to close the digital divide for underserved adults in recovery from trauma. 

Renaissance 21 – $35,000 

Project Lift Off by Star Tech Global Academy provides workshops, devices, connectivity, digital literacy skills, and job market readiness for underserved young adults.  

Seattle Jobs Initiative – $35,000 

Digital Bridge provides digital literacy training, technology, and open labs to underrepresented and low-income residents, creating digital independence through sustained training in common applications and tools to write resumes, access benefits and health care, and search for jobs online. 

Serve Ethiopians Washington – $35,000 

Digital Empowerment for East African Seniors provides personalized support via digital navigators, smartphones, and digital literacy instruction in Amharic and Oromo. 

Solid Ground Washington – $35,000 

Resident Devices and Connectivity provides devices and hotspots across two housing sites for community members formerly experiencing homelessness and living on low incomes. 

Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle – $35,000 

Digital Navigation and Skills Training provides digital navigation services and culturally relevant one-on-one and group-setting digital skills training for diverse ethnic groups, including those experiencing homelessness, previously incarcerated, seniors, veterans, those under or unemployed with limited job-related skills training, and those who may or may not have a high school diploma or GED.   

Wasat Community – $35,000 

Digital Literacy Initiative provides essential digital skills, from basic computer literacy to internet safety, enabling BIPOC, immigrant, and refugee participants to access vital online resources, job opportunities, and community services. 

YWCA Seattle King Snohomish – $35,000 

Work$ Digital Equity Enhancement provides laptops and digital literacy instruction to low-income BIPOC residents enrolled in the YWCA’s Work$ vocational training programs who require access to the necessary technology and skills to find and maintain jobs and participate in career development activities.  

Applications were reviewed by 14 community volunteers from the Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB), Washington State Library, Seattle Pacific University, and community-based organizations, as well as City of Seattle employees from Seattle IT, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Human Services Department, Department of Neighborhoods, and The Seattle Public Library.   

The City of Seattle’s Information Technology Department (Seattle IT) oversees the City’s Digital Equity Program. To learn more about digital equity programs like the Technology Matching Fund Grant program and past winners, reduced-cost cable and internet opportunities, and other programs, visit Seattle IT is a trusted partner that provides secure, reliable, and complaint technologies, enabling the City to deliver equitable and responsive services to the public.