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Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Jul 20 2009

One small step for Digital Inclusion!

(Note: Some word play in the blog title to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.)

Technology Matching Fund 2009 GranteesToday, July 20, 2009, I presented legislation before my fellow Councilmembers to approve $250,000 in Technology Matching Funds for 19 community projects. Officially, council bill 116584, received the support from all Councilmembers. During the last budget process in 2008, Council added an additional $75,000 for the Technology Matching Fund from the proposed $175,000, demonstrating Council’s commitment to put “People First.”

The number of applications submitted this year was a record high—67 applications were submitted from organizations working to help low income youth, immigrants, seniors and people with disabilities. Grants are awarded to distinctive projects that can be completed within one year. The non-profit organization is required to match the value of the fund granted by the City. Since the inception of the program in 1998, the Technology Matching Fund has awarded over $1.6 million for 134 projects in the last 11 years. This year’s funding will bring the total to $1,850,832 and 153 projects.

This grant program was established in 1997 to support the effort to close the digital divide and encourage a technology-healthy city. Much has changed in technology in the last decade when many of us in 1997 were listening to the annoying sound of the dial tone to receive our 56k internet connection. Today, Councilmembers are blogging, twittering, and facebooking, certainly not in our lexicon a decade ago.

Unfortunately, we still have a similar problem today as we did a decade ago with the digital divide. We need to continue working and close that gap by providing these opportunities to residents that simply need a helping hand. The success of this generation’s youth is strongly bounded by technology and education. Some children simply need to be in the same room as technology to innately grasp its functions. Through efforts such as this, we can provide that opportunity and further the City’s commitment to education and digital inclusion.

The grant applications are reviewed by our great Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board who spent many long hours reading and rating all the applications. A big thank you goes out to Fran Clifton, Jac DeHaan, Nancy Gohring, Joann Reiter, and former member Leah Altaras.

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