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The National Digital Inclusion Alliance's (NDIA) expanded National Digital Navigator Corps is running its first round of awards, and will support new projects at 18 sites around the country (including six in Tribal communities) beginning in the second half of this year.
The deadline to apply via Letter of Intent is this Friday at 11:59pm, via this form. Applicants are asked to put together a 200-400 word summary of their project, including local needs, goals, potential impact, and any partners. More detailed instructions can be found here.
From, NDIA, a description of the program:
Digital navigators are trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices. Digital navigators help demystify technology by providing one-on-one, ongoing assistance to connect residents to affordable internet, devices, technical skills, and application support.
NDIA will select 18 partner organizations in rural areas or that serve Tribal and Indigenous communities, with a minimum of six organizations that serve Tribal and Indigenous communities, to host a digital navigator program as part of the National Digital Navigator Corps. Selected grantees will be trusted community-based organizations or local agencies, which will include nonprofits, social service agencies, libraries, and Tribal governments.
Each applicant can apply for up to $389,000, representing a two-and-a-half-year commitment. The breakdown of those funds goes to everything from salary and benefits, to additional program management support, a device, data management, and indirect costs.
One bonus is that there is money for each new Digital Navigator set aside to attend the Net Inclusion conference during the second and third years of their tenure.
Applicants who submit Letters of Intent that pass the first round will be invited to submit full proposals by May 31, with winners notified at the end of July, and work beginning shortly thereafter.
Two years after launching a community-based model to help residents overcome the digital skills challenges that keep so many offline, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced in February 2022 that it has received a $10 million grant from Alphabet subsidiary Google to dramatically expand the impact of its Digital Navigator Corps model across the country. The money will allow NDIA to take the Corps nationwide to 18 new rural communities (including Tribal sites), helping thousands of people overcome adoption barriers with the help of local experts.
Filling a Need at the Onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic
In August of 2020, NDIA first announced the launch of its new venture - the Digital Navigator initiative - to directly reach the many households across the United States that have access to wireline infrastructure but lack the knowledge, skills, trust, or comfort to turn that possibility into an affordable connection. The goal was to help people “get connected with affordable home Internet [access], find affordable computing devices, and learn basic digital skills,” and was borne directly out of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the previous spring.
The Salt Lake Public Library and Rural LISC were pilot partners, but NDIA has since worked with more than 20 organizations and communities over the last two years in addition to releasing a cornucopia of resources for cities and anchor institutions that to adapt and use as they see fit, in places as wide ranging as Austin, Cleveland, Denver, Nashville, Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, and Seattle. All of this work has led to refinement of the Digital Navigator model while also helping thousands get and stay online.