This is an informal meet-up of the Western MA Funder’s Network. At this session, Frank Robinson, Vice President, Public Health, for Baystate Health and the organizer for the Alliance for Digital Equity will brief the Network on the regional coalition's efforts during the past year assessing the issues of digital equity in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Findings from the Alliance's recently released assessment report will be referenced and the newly developed Framework for Action. The briefing will be followed by time for questions and discussion.
Frank will highlight the two multi-year initiatives that emerged as broad regional needs based on the findings from the year-long assessment: the creation of a regional Clearinghouse/Help Desk and the establishment and support of programs that enhance and expand digital literacy.
The Alliance receives support from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and Baystate Health Systems.
Digital equity impacts all 69 communities in the Pioneer Valley - urban, rural, and suburban communities. It impacts many population groups including the BIPOC community, older adults, immigrants, youth, low-income communities, and people with special needs. Digital equity is essential regarding education, civic engagement, economic development, workforce development, arts and culture, and a range of individual and group support services. For those funders with an equity agenda, this session will offer an opportunity to broaden their understanding of how digital equity is a civil rights issue. There will also be discussion of internal actions funders can take to incorporate digital equity into their grantmaking screens.
We will have one hour for the briefing and discussion, followed by 15 minutes of funder-only conversation.
About the Alliance for Digital Equity
The Alliance for Digital Equity (the Alliance) is a coalition of organizations, governmental bodies, and individuals in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties of Massachusetts that care about the issue of digital equity. The Alliance represents the needs of all 69 communities spanning urban, suburban, and rural. While the Alliance seeks to ensure that all residents of the 3-county region have equitable access to the Internet, it recognizes that a special focus must be on the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) residents, those residents of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, rural residents too remote to get internet access, seniors, students, disabled residents, and all residents of low socio-economic status.
During 2020, the Alliance initially focused on three primary areas of need: connectivity, equipment, and digital literacy. Moving forward in 2021, its work is based on a Framework for Action that includes the concepts of Access, Adoption and Application. Two priorities have emerged as priorities - creation of a regional Clearinghouse/HelpDesk and the need to expand and broadly support Digital Literacy. Crosscutting is the understanding that both funding and legislative solutions are necessary to change the status quo regarding digital equity.
About the Network:
The Western MA Funders' Network is an inclusive network for grantmakers funding in, or based in, the four counties of Western Massachusetts: Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin. The network exists as a peer community to support grantmakers in the region and ultimately, to create a positive impact throughout Western Massachusetts.
A Network priority is advancing racial equity through grantmaking in Western MA. The intent is to do this for, and with, the most marginalized in the communities of the region. Network members desire to keep learning, dialoging on a regular basis, and collaborating in its effort to advance racial equity through grantmaking.
A Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion working group is charged with moving this effort forward. Working group members are: Matt Bannister, PeoplesBank, Paul Belsito of the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, John Bidwell of United Way of Hampshire County, Annamarie Golden of Baystate Health Foundation, Donna Haghighat of the Women's Fund of Western MA, Dena Hall of BankESB, Lori Gazillo Kiely of the Berkshire Bank Foundation, and Katie Allan Zobel of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.
The Co-chairs of the Network are Donna Haghighat and Katie Allan Zobel.