National Digital Inclusion Alliance targets rural and Tribal connectivity with $10 million Google grant
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) wants to make it easier for rural and Tribal communities to get and stay connected, planning to use a four-year grant from Google’s charitable arm to create a corps of experts who will provide digital literacy training and help local residents access low-cost broadband service and devices. These so-called “digital navigators” will be deployed via programs in 18 communities across the country. Angela Siefer, executive director of NDIA, said the digital navigator model sprang up during the pandemic, as anchor institutions like schools, libraries, social service agencies and health clinics sought to help residents access critical connectivity services. While NDIA did not create the model, it has been working to standardize it so it can be more easily replicated in other communities. But Siefer noted much of NDIA’s experience to date has been in urban communities. The organization is hoping a $10 million grant it received from Google will help it better serve rural and Tribal communities. The Google grant is the single largest NDIA has received. Siefer said in addition to using it to embed digital navigators within trusted anchor institutions, NDIA will use the money to collect data about what’s working and what isn’t to help fine tune its model. To that end, the money will also go toward the creation of new digital navigator training materials, outreach tools and other templates.
NDIA targets rural, tribal connectivity with $10M Google grant