Strengthening the Community through Digital Equity and Engagement
The critical need that West Philadelphia families have computers and internet access became undeniable during the pandemic. Drexel University, joined by partner programs and organizations across the city, continues to advance digital equity and accessibility for Black and brown neighbors in the following ways:
- The Drexel ExCITe Center's Digital Navigator program has assisted over 75 community members with information on internet access, technical support, and computers amidst the pandemic. They have donated over 50 computers to job seekers, seniors, students, and veterans as well as over 50 headsets for youth in Access Centers.
- Drexel’s Beachell Family Learning Center has been training twelve adults through the IT Pre-Apprenticeship credentialing training program at JEVS Human Services. Program graduates will establish a virtual community tech help desk, HelpdeskPHL, to practice their new technology and customer service skills. HelpdeskPHL will hire JEVS program graduates as interns. In turn, the newly skilled program graduates will remotely assist community members improve their digital literacy skills or refurbish their computer equipment at no cost.
- The West Philly Promise Neighborhood team has supported families and youth by utilizing Community Outreach Coordinator, Jeffrey Jordan’s porch, as a hub to distribute literature and flyers on internet access and resources to civic association leaders and community members in the wake of the pandemic.
On Thursday, February 25th, these initiatives will provide Promise Neighborhood's civic leaders with 15 free refurbished Chromebooks on "Jeffrey's Porch" to be distributed to community members. This program will strengthen the digital engagement and capacity of neighbors, so they are newly able to participate in their respective civic organizations. In addition to the free Chromebooks obtained through the city’s PHLDonateTech initiative, the Digital Navigators and HelpdeskPHL will be on-hand to connect community residents to affordable broadband access to ensure neighbors have the full capacity to connect to online resources and services. “This is exactly the type of coordination and support that we believe in at Drexel. With the support of all our missing-aligned external organizations and departments within Drexel, we are in a unique position to fund and connect resources to address a deep inequity to provide community members continued opportunity to serve each other during this pandemic,” said Soneyet Muhammad, Director of Workforce and Economic Inclusion. Indeed, strengthening the community is really what joining forces with partners is all about.