In March 2022, Digital Navigators from Women's Resource Center, part of the first cohort of The Patterson Foundation's Digital Navigator Program, hosted second cohort agencies from Easterseals SWFL and Goodwill SWFL onsite to learn and grow their digital navigation initiatives together. It was also the first time I met face-to-face with Digital Navigators I trained virtually in 2021 and 2022!

In May 2022, we set time aside once again to connect at Goodwill SWFL's Community Resource Center location in Ft. Myers. This time, we expanded on our work by including this location as a learning lab for Digital Navigators to practice "on the fly" outreach skills with Goodwill's patrons. "Foot traffic has been slower than usual, but I think it would still be a great opportunity for us to do more," said Angela Hemstreet, Digital Navigator and Director of Employment Services at Goodwill SWFL.

Leading up to our visit, I worked with Angela to share examples of promotional materials from Women's Resource Center and Easterseals SWFL. With Angela's leadership, Goodwill SWFL worked on developing marketing materials to help them speak about digital navigation at their agency in a simple, succinct way so their patrons would understand more about the services being offered. When it comes to meeting people where they are to achieve digital equity, it's best to use plain language and avoid industry terminology. In reality, most people in the community wouldn't recognize the term Digital Navigator, so it's critical that postcards and flyers are created in ways that make sense to most people in the community. One of the best ways to grab attention, for instance, is by using eye-catching questions most people can relate to, such as Do you pay too much for home internet? or Did you know your school-age child may qualify your home for free high-speed internet?

Before practicing our cold pitch skills with shoppers, we gathered at Goodwill's public computer lab to tackle the team's recent challenges when trying to complete applications for affordable internet. Talking through particular enrollment situations face-to-face is a rare opportunity, and we were thrilled to strategize and create workarounds. No two digital navigation applications are ever the same, so this time to talk through and role play was valuable.

Once at Goodwill's store, we were led on a tour of the facility by Angela Hemstreet. Digital navigation flyers in English/Spanish had already been placed at every register. I demonstrated to my colleagues how to use their emotional intelligence to carefully observe, then select which customers to speak to and when. For instance, if someone seemed as though they were in a hurry or had several small children in tow, it would not have been an appropriate time to interrupt their shopping. While there were not many shoppers to choose from, my colleagues were amazed at how my cold pitch worked with a shopper at the register. We were able to escort him next door to the computer lab to assist him with an affordable internet application.

Within a couple of hours, this team felt energized and more confident with new guidance and skills that would help them be more successful when speaking to their own clients about digital navigation and completing applications. I am appreciative of The Patterson Foundation for their sponsorship of this additional growth opportunity and for their leadership in the #digitalequity space. #DigitalAccessforAll

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