The city of Baltimore will use $1 million in grant funding to ensure residents and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to “reap the full benefits of a digital economy.”
Through the Baltimore City Information and Technology’s (BCIT) Office of Broadband and Digital Equity (BDE) the city will award more than $900,000 in grants to 22 organizations.
“With digital access becoming more and more engrained in every facet of life, digital equity is a civil rights issue,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Overcoming decades of disinvestment and neglect to close the digital divide is going to take a long-term commitment with long-term solutions. Today’s grant awards are actively investing in our community partners who will be critical in helping us achieve digital equity in every Baltimore neighborhood.”
The grants are a part of the Digital Equity Fund launched in April 2023 to support the creation of community-led digital equity outreach and digital inclusion planning and implementation.
According to the mayor’s office, the fund is “focused on establishing a foundation in awareness, engagement, and education for Baltimore City neighborhoods on digital equity.” The fund is made of up three types of grants: education and outreach, planning, and implementation. Organizations can apply for more than one type of grant.
The city said that grantees were selected due to their “creative and scalable approaches to addressing digital equity gaps impacting Baltimore City’s most vulnerable populations, such as older adults, residents living with disabilities, residents experiencing housing instability and homelessness, residents with limited English proficiency, and residents living in low-income households.”
“My office is excited to partner with our grantees and looks forward to learning how we can continue to meet the needs of residents. Closing the digital divide, as the cliché goes, will take a village, and we’re committed to building a network of community partners with the same fervent focus of ensuring all residents can fully participate in the digital ecosystem,” said BDE Director Kenya Asli.
Funding for the grant program comes from the American Rescue Plan Act. The Baltimore Civic Fund is tasked with distributing funds to grant recipients.