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Effort Underway To Improve Digital Inclusion and Literacy for Tribal and Rural Residents

Monday, December 12, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Giuliana Bullard, IMLS
gbullard@imls.gov 202-653-4799

Angela Siefer, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a program of PAST Foundation
angela@digitalinclusionalliance.org 614-537-3057

Effort Underway To Improve Digital Inclusion and Literacy for Tribal and Rural Residents

Washington, DC – The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the PAST Foundation’s National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA-PAST), announced a pilot project that aims to increase digital inclusion in the United States through local digital literacy trainers, called the Digital Inclusion Corps. The pilot project will work with three state library agencies and two museum organizations to deploy Corps members in five tribal and rural communities.

The five Corps members will work with local communities to discover their community digital inclusion-related needs. They will then create a digital equity plan to address such issues as affordable home internet access, public access, low-cost devices and digital literacy training and technology support. With support from a the project manager, the Corps members will implement the plans, share their experiences online and gather and annotate a collection of digital literacy materials for a publicly available repository at the U.S. Impact Research Group at the University of Washington. Evaluation data will be collected throughout the project period.

The pilot is part of a broader effort between IMLS and NDIA-PAST to create more equitable access to online information as well literacy support and training for all residents and communities, particularly those most disadvantaged.

“This pilot project will provide valuable information on how best to deploy digital inclusion efforts among some of our most vulnerable populations,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “Unlocking the key to full digital access and use could open a path of opportunity for so many residents. Libraries and museums are in a perfect position to serve this effort and be real catalysts for widespread digital inclusion.”

NDIA Director Angela Siefer stated, “The time has come to pilot a national digital inclusion corps, a project that values local relationships and culture while also being connected to national efforts. NDIA is looking forward to making the most of the expertise of our affiliates to support digital inclusion in rural and tribal areas.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission has been to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. For the past 20 years, our grant making, policy development, and research has helped libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The PAST Foundation is a leader in transforming education in schools across the country. Though its PAST Innovation Lab, its work with students, teachers and schools brings transdisciplinary problem-based learning with a STEM focus to the classroom. PAST knows that learning by doing – solving problems through experiences – significantly impacts student learning and prepares them for life. In May 2015, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance Directing Council agreed to become a program of PAST Innovation Lab. PAST’s leadership saw a natural affinity between PAST and NDIA. Working directly with students, PAST knows how critical it is to have access to broadband and computing devices, plus have current digital literacy skills. NDIA represents leaders of community organizations, public libraries, local governments, housing authorities and other institutions working in communities to reduce digital disparities among neighbors. NDIA’s affiliates help millions of disadvantaged Americans to join the 21st century mainstream through digital literacy training, public Internet access, affordable home broadband services, and digital inclusion advocacy.