Forest County Broadband Committee Named NDIA National Digital Navigator Corps Grantee

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced today that the Forest County Broadband Committee will be one of 18 organizations that will launch the National Digital Navigator Corps.

The grant from NDIA is part of $10 million of support from Google.org, which will go toward the hiring of the community-based digital navigators alongside programmatic and technical support to further develop NDIA’s digital navigator model for rural and Tribal communities. Digital navigators at the 18 selected sub-grantee organizations, including at Forest County, will help thousands of our local area residents gain much-needed access to the internet, devices, and digital skills training.

Forest County will use the $375,320 grant to hire, train, and support a digital navigator, who will serve the community over a two-and-a-half year period. This will provide County and Tribal residents with the opportunity to learn basic computer usage and how to connect to the internet. For others, there is an opportunity to learn skills to be employable in the workforce.

UW-Extension authored the grant and the Forest County Broadband Committee Chair and Forest County Supervisor Board Chair have been very supportive.

“These grants are about more than just funding. By launching the National Digital Navigator Corps, we are extending the digital navigator model to areas of the United States lacking resources,” said Angela Siefer, executive director of NDIA. “These digital navigators will open doors to residents to transform their lives by engaging in online opportunities, including education, workforce, citizen participation, and social activities.”

Seven of the grantees are Tribal-led organizations and an additional three will serve Tribal communities with the grant. NDIA is partnering closely with AMERIND Critical Infrastructure to engage and support Tribal members of the National Digital Navigator Corps.

The 18 National Digital Navigator Corps grantees are:

  • Alaska Federation of Natives, AK (Tribal-led)
  • Cayuse Native Solutions, OR (Tribal-led)
  • Cherokee Nation (Tribal-led)
  • Community Broadband Action Network Corp, IA
  • Community Service Programs of West Alabama, , AL
  • Computer Reach, PA
  • Easter Seals of Greater Houston, , TX
  • Forest County Broadband Committee, WI (serving Tribal communities)
  • Gila River Broadcasting Corporation: Digital Connect Initiative, AZ (Tribal-led)
  • Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, OH
  • Hoopa Valley Public Utilities District, CA (Tribal-led)
  • Lummi Indian Business Council, WA (Tribal-led)
  • National Digital Equity Center, ME (serving Tribal communities)
  • Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission, OH
  • Pottsboro Area Public Library, TX
  • Pueblo of Jemez, NM (Tribal-led)
  • Shaping Our Appalachian Region, , KY
  • Washington State University Extension Grays Harbor County, WA (serving Tribal communities)

About Forest County Broadband Committee: The recently formed Forest County Broadband Committee (formerly Broadband Commission) is working to get better broadband for all in Forest County.

About National Digital Inclusion Alliance: NDIA advances digital equity by supporting community programs and equipping policymakers to act. Working collaboratively with more than 850 digital inclusion practitioners, NDIA advocates for broadband access, tech devices, digital skills training, and tech support. Please see more information and join the NDIA community at digitalinclusion.org.

About Google.org: Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, supports nonprofits that address humanitarian issues and apply scalable, data-driven innovation to solving the world’s biggest challenges. We accelerate their progress by connecting them with a unique blend of support that includes funding, products, and technical expertise from Google volunteers. We engage with these believers-turned-doers who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. We want a world that works for everyone—and we believe technology and innovation can move the needle.

About AMERIND Critical Infrastructure: Located on the Pueblo of Santa Ana in New Mexico – a federal enclave – AMERIND Critical Infrastructure (ACI) assists Tribes in planning, building, and financing modern community broadband networks designed to bring 21st century connectivity to their peoples. ACI is a division of AMERIND, a federally chartered and Tribal government-owned risk management company.

What Is a Digital Navigator?: Digital navigators are trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices. Digital navigation services include ongoing one-on-one assistance with affordable internet access, device acquisition, technical skills, and application support. The digital navigator model is a holistic, community-based, digital inclusion program established by NDIA and developed by the NDIA community of digital inclusion practitioners. See more information and resources at digitalinclusion.org/dn.

For more information about this program locally in Forest County, please contact Chris Stark, Digital Equity Outreach Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension at 608-228-3763, or christopher.stark@wisc.edu.