A Digital Equity Fund for Baltimore: A Call to Action
COVID-19 has intensified an already growing digital divide, laying bare the disproportionate challenges that low-income and communities of color face. In Baltimore, a report commissioned by the Abell Foundation found that 40% of city households lack internet access, effectively preventing Black and Latinx families from seeking the support of vital services, such as education, healthcare, housing, immigration and/or employment. While the early response in Baltimore has been encouraging--from philanthropy to the nascent digital equity coalition--we need to also acknowledge that more can, and must, be done.
Even prior to COVID, cities across the country have been building Digital Equity Funds, some created as early as 2017. Cities ranging in size and demographics from Boston, Bloomington, and Philadelphia to Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City (to name a few) are among the early pioneers. Ranging in size and configuration, these funds are designed to strategically and efficiently address immediate and long-term needs surrounding broadband access, devices, digital literacy, tech support and public interest advocacy, leveraging philanthropic commitments with private, corporate, and even individual investments.
Join Maryland Philanthropy Network and co-host Robert W. Deutsch Foundation for a funder conversation designed to investigate the possibility of establishing a Digital Equity Fund for Baltimore. We’ll be joined by Francella Ochillo, Executive Director of Next Century Cities, and Wendy Pearson, Manager of Strategic Initiatives for Kansas City Public Library, who will share their experiences related to Digital Equity Funds, as well as help us better understand the potential for federal funding for local projects.
This program is for Maryland Philanthropy Network members and invited guests only.