Improving internet infrastructure, fostering competition among internet service providers, and offering more affordable broadband services are three tenants often touted as ways to solve the digital divide; however, having access to the internet is useless without the skills necessary to use it–a skills gap that disproportionately impacts historically marginalized communities. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that nearly ¾ of Black respondents and more than half of Hispanic respondents report their employability is affected by their lack of digital skills. HBR further estimates that maintaining the status quo would result in Black and Hispanic employees being “locked out” of 86% of jobs in the next 20 years.

Recognizing the vital importance of digital skills training, we are proud to award a Spark Grant to Human-I-T. A nonprofit social enterprise, Human-I-T is driven by the idea that access to technology is a right, a privilege. That’s why they, on top of providing access to low-cost devices and internet connections, they  provide free, digital literacy courses to individuals in-need. Through the grant, Human-I-T will expand their already successful digital navigator #include programs by empowering students to use their newfound digital skills to access telehealth services, education, social services, online banking, and other opportunities online. Human-I-T’s bi-lingual, self-paced training teaches foundational skills including turning the device on; accessing the internet; using email, Word, video conferencing platforms; and more.  Students also can join live training seminars if face-to-face learning is preferred. 

Broadening the #include programs beyond foundational skills to also include training modules that help learners search and apply for jobs, and access other public social services will empower students to become full digital citizens. In addition to directly serving historically marginalized communities, including low-income families, women, and racial/ethnic minorities, Human-I-T’s training and support are also available to nonprofit organizations and community-based organizations who want to ensure its members can take full advantage of their programs. Although it is currently only available to California residents, Human-I-T hopes that one day its digital literacy course will become a go-to resource across the nation. In fact, over the next year alone, Human-I-T’s digital literacy courses will reach 4,500 learners.

We look forward to sharing more of Human-I-T’s efforts to close the digital divide in the months to come.

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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