The STEM Alliance Receives Grant in Support of the Digital Equity Now initiative
STEM Alliance staff at a Digital Pathways event where clients sign up for internet access and digital skills classes.
The STEM Alliance announced that they were awarded a $25,000 grant from the Alliant Credit Union Foundation as part of a nationally competitive grant process. This gift will help expand the success of their Digital Pathways initiative, a digital navigator model that provides one-to-one case management assistance to help individuals find access to free/low cost internet, devices and tech skill classes.
As part of Alliant’s mission, they are taking a stand to bridge the digital divide by assisting charitable organizations through grants to bridge systemic gaps in internet access, device ownership and basic tech skills. The Alliant Foundation has made grants to Digital Inclusion Organizations via Alliant’s Quarter Million Dollar Challenge. This $25,000 grant will help strengthen The STEM Alliance’s digital equity work and allow them to serve a larger portion of Westchester County.
Margaret Käufer, The STEM Alliance President, said, “We are so grateful for Alliant’s support which helps us grow our reach and acknowledges The STEM Alliance as a national leader of digital equity and inclusion services. Here in Westchester, we have thousands of residents trying to compete in a digital world with limited digital skills and tools. This grant helps to address these systemic inequities through programmatic action.”
In Westchester County, over 51,000 households have no internet service and nearly 30,000 households have no computer. With an average of 3.3 members per household, over 150,000 children and adults are impacted by the digital divide. As technology continuously advances, having an online connection is critical for equity of access to educational opportunities, healthcare access, financial planning, and workforce development.
Since 2020, The STEM Alliance has served over 1,100 clients and maintains a data dashboard of their impact metrics showing that clients triple their comfort on workforce platforms such as Google Calendar, Sheets and more with just 15 hours of basic tech education. The STEM Alliance recently expanded their Digital Pathways model and provided direct assistance with enrolling clients in the federally funded Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Through ACP, qualifying residents can receive a $30 credit on their internet bill and a credit to purchase a low cost device. However, the application process itself is digitally based and clients often distrust the enrollment process. Beyond teaching tech education classes, The STEM Alliance’s Digital Navigators provide one-to-one assistance to assess a client’s needs and eligibility for programs like ACP and then personally assist the client with the ACP enrollment process. Chief Program Officer Walter Gabino Rendon stated, “Any one of us can appreciate how intimidating it can be to handle registration portals or speak with an internet service provider about billing. Our Digital Pathways program reduces obstacles and transforms lives by making the process of access free/low cost internet possible for those who are most in need.”
The STEM Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing K-12 STEM education and enrichment initiatives to benefit students, parents and educators in schools and community. Their stated mission is to bridge systemic gaps to provide equal access to critical science, technology, engineering and math learning resources with the goal of empowering communities, inspiring innovation and creating opportunity for all.
For more info: www.theSTEMalliance.org