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Maribel Martinez Joins The Patterson Foundation as Initiative Consultant

April 22, 2021
SARASOTA, Fla. (April 22, 2021) – The Patterson Foundation has hired Maribel Martinez as a consultant on its Digital Access for All initiative. In this position, she will collaborate with the foundation’s staff members and other consultants on strengthening access to digital technology that connects individuals, organizations, and communities across Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

Maribel is a social sector leader with over 25 years of experience in education and nonprofit management. After beginning her teaching career in Miami, she moved to New York City and led the launch of the first all-digital teaching platform. Later, Maribel transitioned to nonprofit management full time and has been working to close the digital divide, the range of inequalities that separate those who are able to utilize the internet and digital technology and those who are not. She is a national digital inclusion expert and has first-hand experience collaborating with HUD-assisted housing leaders to implement multi-year digital equity plans. Maribel’s blended and virtual digital skills training curricula for secondary students, working-age individuals, and older adults have been adopted in 30 U.S. cities and counting.

“Maribel has spent much of her career focused on ensuring generations of children and their families have reliable access to digital technology,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “Her experience in the digital realm collaborating across sectors brings great value to achieving The Patterson Foundation’s initiative of enhancing digital access for asset-limited families in the four-county region and strengthening individuals, organizations, and communities.”

Digital Access for All is an initiative that explores how multiple sectors are working to enhance access to digital devices, skills, and literacy for people in ways that foster inclusion and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how necessary digital access is to connect to a variety of vital services that have shifted to an online format, including education, health, and employment. This initiative is managed by Laurey Stryker, a consultant who works with private foundations and nonprofit organizations to facilitate, develop, and implement innovative education strategies.

There are several barriers to digital access for asset-limited families and communities throughout our region and across the country, including access, adoption, affordability, and awareness. Access encompasses issues such as geography and competition, as internet service providers may not be as inclined to spend as much money in areas without competitors. Adoption refers to whether or not members of a community subscribe to a high-speed internet plan. Affordability is the biggest factor, as cheap service plans often include drastically reduced internet speed. Finally, many asset-limited families are unaware of plans or how to qualify for one.

“I am eager to apply my knowledge and skills gained through my six years working on digital equity nationally and in Florida, my home state, and to leverage my background in education and nonprofit management to help The Patterson Foundation bridge the digital divide in communities throughout the region,” said Martinez.

Since June 2020, The Patterson Foundation has engaged in enriching and insightful conversations on efforts underway to enhance digital access with more than 30 national and state organizations and over 50 county leaders in schools, libraries, economic development, and nonprofits. This knowledge has informed opportunities to strengthen these efforts collaboratively within the four-county area of Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota.

For more information about Digital Access for All, please visit thepattersonfoundation.org.

About The Patterson Foundation
The Patterson Foundation strengthens the efforts of people, organizations, and communities. The foundation focuses on issues that address common aspirations and foster wide participation, along with ways organizations learn and share as they evolve. For more information, please visit thepattersonfoundation.org and connect with @ThePattersonFdn on Twitter.

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