Photo: MHI Digital Navigators Bonnie Hardy-Ramsaeur and Darlene Brown

MHI Delivers Its First Affordable Internet Enrollment Event in Manatee!

Posted on July 14, 2023 by Maribel Martinez, consultant with The Patterson Foundation
The Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) is known for its work helping to narrow healthcare disparities in Sarasota and Manatee counties and for its ability to directly engage with community members on important health and wellness topics. Now, with trained Digital Navigators (DNs) on their team, MHI is fulfilling its mission by ensuring its constituency has access to affordable home broadband, computing devices, and digital literacy training opportunities so they can better seek and enjoy health services, including preventive care.

Last month, DNs from MHI and The Patterson Foundation’s Digital Access for All (DA4A) team opened the doors of the Oneco United Methodist Church in Manatee to welcome community members to their first-ever affordable internet enrollment event. The affordable internet enrollment event is a culminating activity that all agencies who train through the Digital Navigator Program are required to host with support from The Patterson Foundation. Having promoted the event during a recent Juneteenth gathering with flyers and door-to-door outreach, DNs scheduled appointments with people who needed to lower their home internet bills or establish low-cost internet service subscriptions. DNs even procured free laptops through Sarasota Technology Users Group (STUG), ready for pick up by their new owners, whom they met during Juneteenth block parties while promoting DN services.

“Remember, ACP is every day, not just today! Tell your people!” Bonnie Hardy-Ramsaeur reminded community members as they made their way to the door. “This is life-changing stuff,” said Bonnie to Maribel Martinez, a DA4A consultant at the enrollment event to support Bonnie and other MHI DNs. Bonnie added, “But people have to know they can sign up, not just today.”

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is an essential tool for DNs like Bonnie to help households lower their monthly internet bills or help them afford broadband service at all. “DNs are trained to leverage the ACP, but a big part of their training involves helping them to develop an outreach strategy,” said Maribel Martinez. “MHI continues to experience much success using word of mouth to reach the people they serve because they are trusted community change agents.”

During this event, six individuals were assisted with affordable internet and computers, but they represented an additional ten household members. Digital inclusion research supports that because subscribing to the internet and adopting computers has a multiplier effect, the lives of 16 people will be positively impacted by MHI’s DNs, including seven children.

Chipping away at the digital divide through events such as this one is an essential strategy for achieving digital equity, and we look forward to seeing more events by MHI in the future.

For more information about TPF’s Digital Navigator Program, contact DA4A initiative lead Cheri Coryea: ccoryea@thepattersonfoundation.org.

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