Raising Expectations explains how digital navigators are bridging the gap

This nonprofit, along with Inspiredu, was chosen to receive Comcast’s $110K grant to help improve connectivity in the community

Comcast is set to donate $110 thousand to Atlanta nonprofits Raising Expectations and Inspiredu to kickstart Connect 404, a digital navigator program. The initiative, aimed at promoting digital equity in Georgia, will employ community members to assist residents with internet connectivity and digital skills training.

Raising Expectations, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting disadvantaged youth will use the grant to further its mission of preparing these individuals for success.

Co-founder and co-executive director Maria Armstrong, as well as the director of programs Faith Porter, discussed with rolling out what resources they plan to offer and other relevant topics.

How does it feel to be a part of this moment?

Maria Armstrong: We love it. Whenever you have a grantor who’s willing to invest in the work that you do, that’s exactly the type of support we need. It gives us a chance to engage our young people in a practical way. It’s not just a theory, they get to be in the field. They get to talk to people and engage in changing their communities.

Faith Porter: I’d echo everything Maria said, as well as adding that we’re here not only representing the staff of Raising Expectations, but the 15 navigators that were funded through this program as well as their families. This sort of donation offers a much larger impact than just what you see here.

What resources are you providing for the program?

FP: Through the digital navigators program, we had 15 youth who were trained as navigators. They were identified as applicants to our Youth Work Program, which is a workplace readiness, paid summer internship hosted by Raising Expectations each summer.

These 15 students had a specialized experience. They had a chance to come over here to Inspiredu regularly, a chance to learn what goes into refurbishing computers such as the intake of technology donations and they had a chance to get out into the greater community to speak to people at work and job fairs.

They had a chance to take some courses within Inspiredu to prepare them for those experiences. These are skills that are not just limited to their experience as a navigator in the summer. They’ll carry this over into their high school classes and their college classes, and also take that back home as well to continue to serve as resources.

Why should digital navigators look like the people that they are serving?

MA: That’s incredibly important. There’s a huge gap. Technology is advancing quickly. It’s changing the way we live, the way we work, the way we play and the gap and divide is growing at a fast pace. Having young people engaged with the community, they look like the community and they live in the community. It means that there’s a level of trust there, which allows for people to say, “Okay, I believe I can sign up for the internet which I need at home.” This closes that gap and the technology skills training as well.

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