Digital Navigators shift their awareness efforts to the Affordable Connectivity Program. As the City of Philadelphia encourages low-income residents to sign up for the federal internet subsidy, this group is working to get more West Philadelphians connected by leveraging their community connections. In this article, we will discuss the importance of digital navigators and how they can promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. We will also explore the benefits of partnering with digital navigators, and how this partnership can lead to increased productivity, profitability, and a more positive workplace culture.
The City of Philadelphia’s pandemic-launched PHLConnectED subsidy for home internet will be ending in July 2023. In its place, local digital equity advocates are encouraging low-income Philadelphians to switch over to or sign up for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) program.
ACP provides up to a $30 discount each month toward broadband services. Nearly 17 million United States households, including more than 570,000 in Pennsylvania, have enrolled since its launch in December 2021. (The program replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit launched in May 2021 via federal stimulus dollars.) This benefit is available to all households that meet certain income requirements, unlike PHLConnectED, which was only available to families with school-aged children.
What are digital navigators?
Digital navigators are trained professionals who help individuals and organizations navigate the complex digital landscape. They can assist with a variety of tasks, including:
- Setting up and troubleshooting technology
- Creating and managing social media accounts
- Developing digital marketing strategies
- Analyzing website traffic and user behavior
- Ensuring compliance with privacy and security regulations
The role of digital navigators in promoting DEI
Digital navigators can play a crucial role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. By helping organizations embrace digital technologies, they can help break down barriers and increase access to opportunities for underrepresented groups.
For example, digital navigators can help organizations develop inclusive digital marketing strategies that reach a diverse audience. They can also assist with the development of accessible websites and mobile apps, ensuring that individuals with disabilities can access digital content and services.
Meet the digital navigators
As experts have said before, programs like ACP can only become widespread if it’s easy for residents to sign up for them. Stakeholders such as the digital navigators have the responsibility to make that as easy as possible, especially for people with less tech experience.
That’s where people like Rich Dollery, Hyden Terrell and Christina Brown come in.
Dollery works for Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health in WPPN field operations, and is among the community members who became involved with the digital navigators’ outreach team to spread the word about the new-at-the-time PHLConnectED program earlier in the pandemic.
The benefits of partnering with digital navigators
Partnering with digital navigators can provide numerous benefits for organizations. Some of these benefits include:
- Increased productivity: Digital navigators can help streamline processes, reduce errors, and improve efficiency, leading to increased productivity.
- Improved profitability: By leveraging digital technologies, organizations can increase their reach, improve customer engagement, and ultimately increase profitability.
- Enhanced workplace culture: By embracing DEI principles and promoting accessibility, organizations can create a more positive and inclusive workplace culture, leading to increased employee satisfaction and retention.
At Drexel’s open house, which saw a steady stream of attendees over a few hours, Dollery told Technical.ly he’s happy to be able to provide a free service to the community — especially because many people are skeptical of accepting a service that has no strings attached, he said. Working with the team has been personal to him because he resides in West Philadelphia himself and has a school-aged daughter. He knew of people in the area who struggled to find internet or access to a device for virtual school.
“Within my own community, when there was such a need at that particular time, it was extremely rewarding to be able to do something that directly impacted people,” he said.
For her part, Terrell became a digital navigator because she wanted to help ensure that more students in Philly, specifically Black and brown students, have access to the internet to do their schoolwork. Brown, also a digital navigator, echoed Terrell, saying that students shouldn’t have to leave their home to get internet or miss school because they don’t have access.
In conclusion, digital navigators can play a critical role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. By partnering with digital navigators, organizations can leverage digital technologies to break down barriers, increase access to opportunities, and promote a more positive and inclusive workplace culture.