Mayor Scott Announces New Digital Equity Fund
Wednesday Apr 12th, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD. (Wednesday, April 12, 2023) - Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott, through the Baltimore City Information & Technology's (BCIT) Office of Broadband and Digital Equity (BDE), moves one step closer to closing the digital divide with the launch of the Digital Equity Fund. This initiative supports the creation of community-led digital inclusion plans and provides funding for communities to bring those plans to life. The Digital Equity Fund is initially seeded with $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The Baltimore Civic Fund will manage the distribution of funds. Grant applications are open now through June 2, 2023.
"Without question, participation in our society requires access to affordable high-speed internet and devices, as well as the knowledge and skills to use those tools," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "With the Digital Equity Fund, we are investing in community-led efforts to build knowledge and skills and close the digital divide - especially among communities that have experienced historic disinvestment."
Increasingly, our quality of life is impacted by the digital divide. Work, education, health care, and socializing with friends and family require participation in a digital world. Yet many Baltimore residents lack the essential skills and tools needed to fully engage in our modern, digital world: More than 1 in 4 Baltimore households lack a digital device, and more than 40 percent lack internet access. Centuries of disinvestment also means our most vulnerable residents often feel the most impact of the digital divide.
"Through the Digital Equity Fund, we will support the great work already happening in communities and new efforts to address the digital divide. This is an important contribution to Baltimore's digital ecosystem and reaffirms the city's focus on long-term, sustainable solutions benefiting all Baltimore residents," said Kenya Asli, Interim Director, Office of Broadband and Digital Equity, BCIT.
To help address these gaps, the Digital Equity Fund will provide three types of grants to Baltimore-based nonprofit organizations working in close partnership with communities:
- Education and Outreach grants ($5,000 - 10,000) will fund community-based activities to raise awareness of the digital divide, support programming to address the digital divide, and build capacity.
Eligible organizations are 501c3 non-profit organizations based in Baltimore City and serve Baltimore residents. Organizations may submit a grant proposal for each grant type. Applicants should plan to address the needs of groups most likely to be left behind in the digital age, including people with disabilities, older adults, immigrants and non-English speakers, individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group, residents returning from incarceration, LGBTQIA+ youth, people experiencing homelessness, and families with children under age five. For more information about the Digital Equity Fund, to access the Request for Applications and application portal, or to sign up for information sessions about the Fund, visit: www.baltimorecivicfund.org/digital-equity-fund.
About BCIT's Office of Broadband and Digital Equity
The Office of Broadband and Digital Equity within the Baltimore City Office of Information & Technology leads Baltimore City's efforts to permanently close the digital divide and serves as Baltimore City government's primary liaison with internal and external stakeholders in digital equity. We envision Baltimore being a city where residents can participate in the digital ecosystem, have access to devices, technical assistance, digital education, and affordable and reliable internet in the home.
About the Baltimore Civic Fund
An independent 501c3 organization serving as the fiscal sponsor for the City of Baltimore, the Baltimore Civic Fund is proud to be the financial backbone for public-private partnerships between innovative city programs and the philanthropic community. In this role, the Civic Fund manages $20 million annually for more than 125 city programs that promote business and economic development, education, culture and the creative economy, job growth, and more. The Civic Fund strives to serve as a hub for connection and coordination between the City of Baltimore and the philanthropic community by building relationships and growing support for priority projects. Working alongside the mayor of Baltimore and city leadership, the Civic Fund helps realize a vision of an inclusive city where all Baltimore residents prosper.