I’ll be honest. There are days when I feel challenged and heartbroken, but more than anything, I’m optimistic. The first half of 2020 has shown me that we are resilient and that there are more of us than ever engaged and willing to do the work to make our communities equitable, inclusive, and powerful.
This has been particularly true in the digital inclusion sector. As jobs, schools, social services, and social gatherings move online, there is a growing recognition that digital access and skills are critical in our society, and should be a universal human right. We see more organizations and individuals becoming digital equity champions, affirming that we need government support in the sector. Digital inclusion needs to be a part of all of our missions, no matter the day to day work we do.
I’m motivated by the folks stepping up and taking ownership of community challenges and building creative solutions to address them from the ground up — folks like our Digital Inclusion Fellows. And what better time than now to announce another cohort of incredible leaders from around the country dedicated to supporting their communities in getting online?
Our sixth cohort includes 11 Fellows from around the country: Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. They hail from a wide array of institutions, including a school district, multiple libraries, a Goodwill, and an organization that works with formerly incarcerated individuals. Their backgrounds and experiences are equally diverse, from a first-generation American to the first college graduate in their family, a student currently pursuing her MPA, and a horseback riding instructor. What united this incredibly diverse group of individuals is a commitment to providing access and skills training so that communities can become empowered to navigate the digital world.
Over the next year, these fellows will be learning, sharing, designing, implementing, and challenging themselves to become digital inclusion experts who can transform their communities. I’ll support these emerging leaders in building robust digital literacy programming to help seniors learn how to use hot spots, parents of school-age children communicate with their children’s teachers, refugees pursue entrepreneurship, and individuals experiencing homelessness seek out job opportunities.
It’s this group of individuals and their passion for creating a more equitable and digitally empowered world that helps me remember that even with the challenges facing us now, there is still room for optimism and opportunity for growth.
The fellowship is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors: Google Fiber, the Cleveland Foundation, and Meyer Memorial Trust. A special thank you goes out to our founding sponsor, Google Fiber. The Digital Inclusion Fellowship was conceived and launched in partnership with Google Fiber in 2015.