Photo: Digital Navigator Program: Cohorts 1 and 2

Digital Navigator Program: Cohorts 1 and 2

Posted on May 08, 2022 by Maribel Martinez, consultant with The Patterson Foundation
In November 2021, the three Cohort 1 agencies from The Patterson Foundation's Digital Navigator Program wrapped up their pilot participation and declared their intention to continue with digital navigation. We circle back with Goodwill Manasota, UnidosNow, and Women's Resource Center to learn more about how their programs have evolved after six months.

"We are so grateful to The Patterson Foundation and Maribel Martinez for the comprehensive training we received for our digital navigators," said Margie Genter, VP of Mission Services. Genter added, "Six months later, we are STILL providing these services to the people we serve. We know that the digital navigation landscape is constantly evolving [...]. We are grateful to be part of the [...] initiative so that we can stay abreast of the changes [...] and continue to move our participants forward with their digital skills."

"We hired two digital navigators, and we are finishing [...] with their training," said Lisbeth Oscuvilca, Family Engagement Director at UnidosNOW. The training was conducted in English and Spanish to allow new staff to become more dexterous with technical terminology germane to the internet, computers, and digital literacy. This builds staff capacity and helps educate and empower clients as consumers of technology."

Oscuvilca also shared that their Digital Navigation Program spreads to clients through word of mouth. UnidosNow has helped with affordable broadband, computers, and free digital skills training. Soon, UnidosNOW will begin accepting digital navigation appointments online, but they continue promoting their digital navigation services in the community during local outreach events.

"Overall, things are great, and we are grateful to have the Digital Navigator Program!" said Lori Gentile, Director of Client Services at Women's Resource Center (WRC). The nonprofit, staffed mainly by volunteers, has seen increased digital navigation appointment requests for digital literacy training to improve marketability for higher wage-paying jobs. The agency is also working with scholarship recipients who need digital navigation support, and as always, they are actively recruiting volunteers. Contact WRC to learn more about volunteer opportunities and digital navigation.

In April 2022, Cohort 2 agencies convened to formally meet one another for the first time during a virtual Meet & Greet hosted by The Patterson Foundation's DA4A team.

With training completed in March, newly minted digital navigators from Easterseals Southwest Florida, FUNducation, and Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida had the opportunity to share how they each planned to implement digital navigation within their existing programs and services, say more about their unique clients and anticipated challenges, and share their experiences with launching digital navigation at their sites. This opportunity helped Cohort 2 see themselves as part of a hyperlocal community of practitioners who can support one another's work through communication and collaboration.

The needs expressed during the Meet & Greet led Maribel to facilitate a site visit to the WRC in March 2022.

Easterseals SWFL and Goodwill Industries of SWFL digital navigators, along with Maribel, met in person for the first time to experience how the WRC's Digital Navigation Program continues to evolve, how they manage training new digital navigators, marketing strategies, and client appointments.

Positive feedback inspired Goodwill Industries of SWFL to host Digital Navigator Cohort 2 colleagues in May.

This time, digital navigators will receive on-site coaching from Maribel with Goodwill Industries of SWFL clients, practice approaching clients outside of appointments in the community, and convene as a group to develop an action plan to increase digital navigation activities during the last month of the pilot.

Stay tuned for more exciting connecting → learning → sharing → evolving → strengthening in the months to come!

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