Just two months after it unveiled free access to gigabit internet for low-income households in Kansas City, Google Fiber is again ramping up efforts to close the digital divide.
In partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network, Google Fiber has again opened applications for its Digital Inclusion Fellowship, this time looking for 22 bright minds to develop digital inclusion initiatives.
As part of the program — now in its second year — fellows will create and lead digital literacy programs in the 11 metro areas with Google Fiber. Initiatives include showing adults how to take the GED online, helping job-seekers learn digital workplace skills and teaching parents how to access their children’s grades online.
In its first year, the fellowship made significant inroads in digital literacy efforts, said Andrew Bentley, Google Fiber’s digital inclusion specialist.
“Over the past 9 months, our Digital Inclusion Fellows have been hard at work bringing people online for the first time,” Bentley said in a release. “To continue our progress, we’re expanding the fellowship to a second year, and opening applications for 22 positions across 11 cities. We’re looking forward to working with this year’s fellows, local organizations, and the Nonprofit Technology Network over the next year as they build new digital literacy and awareness programs for their communities.”
The new cohort is an expansion from last years’ 16 fellowship spots. Previously, Google accepted two Kansas City natives, Eze Redwood and Leslie Scott.
Kansas City fellows will continue to work with two local organizations, Literacy Kansas City and the Kansas City Public Library. Theses programs, along with the rest of the fellowship, will be supported by Google Fiber’s allocation of roughly $1 million to cover initiative expenses and fellows’ salaries.
The digital divide particularly affects low-literacy populations but working with fellows for a second year brings more opportunities to close the gap, said Gillian Helm, executive director of Literacy Kansas City.
“Adults with low literacy are disproportionately affected by digital exclusion, which means they are disproportionately left behind and left out of full participation in 21st century life,” Helm said. “We’re thrilled to be a part of this important program for the second year in a row, and thank Google Fiber and NTEN for having us back to continue to build on the important initiatives we were able to launch during year one.”