Photo: DA4A Jumps into Action for the 1st quarter of 2022

DA4A Jumps into Action for the 1st quarter of 2022

Posted on January 07, 2022 by Cheri Coryea, consultant with The Patterson Foundation
As the DA4A team embarks on 2022, we are excited about the planned activities and the possibilities to connect, learn, evolve, and generate even more interest in Digital Access for All!

In the first quarter of 2022, we are rebooting the Digital Access Services Matrix survey. We've had a national interest in this matrix concept that helps identify where families can find digital access services in the community. To expedite this process, DA4A has asked Mike Kennedy to assist in expanding the reach and response for the matrix. If you are interested in learning more about the matrix or having your organization added to it, please contact Mike at mikekennedytpf@gmail.com.

Our first quarterly webversation of the year, the ninth since inception, will be on January 27th from 10 am – 11:30 am. It will include a timely update on the Florida Broadband Mapping Project from Katie Smith, director of the Office of Community Partnerships & Florida Office of Broadband. Also, we will share the newly published rules for the American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the recently renamed Affordable Connectivity Program, formerly Emergency Broadband Benefit. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Digital Access for All.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began accelerating the transition of vital resources, such as employment and education services, to a strictly online presence, thousands of people without digital connections or devices fell behind in their ability to connect with essential services. One promising innovation to address this challenge is the digital navigator concept. Digital navigators connect community members with groups and programs providing low-cost home internet service, affordable computing devices, and foundational digital literacy training. Last year, The Patterson Foundation created the Digital Navigator Program. Collectively, DA4A has nine digital navigators fully trained from cohort #1. Pioneer organizations include UnidosNow, Women's Resource Center, and Goodwill Manasota. The ongoing feedback we receive proves that these positions are actively helping organizations connect households and families to one or more of the three essential elements of digital access. In early February, we look forward to launching cohort #2 and training three new organizations to be named in the coming weeks.

Collaboration is essential to strengthening efforts to provide digital access and overcome common barriers. Regional library managers in the Suncoast region are working together to address several areas they think will help bring awareness to the valuable resources offered at each location. This includes finding ways to receive additional funding from the newly established stay connected and other public and private funding.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is our efforts to continue meeting with our economic development leaders throughout the region to strengthen the work they do and the business and organizations they serve. When we last got together, they provided some impressive ideas of how to transform digital technologies in the Suncoast Region. DA4A is ready to provide research and continue to convene these experts.

As we move DA4A into 2022, we must stay connected and focus on our children, families, organizations, and communities. Working in the 'Big Tent' of Digital Access, we continually stay informed of local, state, and national efforts to address digital equity and the digital divide. We share these resources so that everyone will have the opportunity to stay equally connected, have access to updated devices, and seek the ability to gain the skills and training needed to be digitally literate.

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