Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide
Queens University's Digital Navigators Program Aims to Connect All Charlotteans
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Digital Charlotte, an initiative of the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, just launched Digital Navigators. The new program provides Mecklenburg County residents a central location to get support signing up for affordable home broadband internet service, purchasing affordable technology, help with basic device and connectivity issues, and learning new digital skills.
Residents throughout the county can call 311 to access a free hotline where a digital navigator will connect them to available digital inclusion resources.
"This program was created to ensure that everyone in Mecklenburg County can thrive in a modern society, economy, and democracy driven by access and adoption of technology," said Bruce Clark, executive director at Digital Charlotte. "While there are several great resources available to help community members, there is no centralized place to help them navigate to and through the process of benefiting from these services. This program intends to fill that void."
The program was made possible by a $230k investment provided by the City through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The effort by Digital Charlotte, the City of Charlotte and other community partners aims to address Charlotte's growing digital divide by promoting digital equity with an emphasis on some of the city's most underserved neighborhoods.
"The mission of the program is to connect communities in Charlotte equitably and inclusively," said Daina Nathaniel, associate professor in the Knight School of Communication. "Often, in areas where broadband deserts exist, there is a lack of access to technology, which can also be indicative of widespread economic and educational disparities."
Other partners include 311, Eliminate the Digital Divide (E2D), Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, City Startup Labs, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
"Our community must continue to prioritize digital inclusion for all its residents," said Braxton Winston, Charlotte city councilman at-large. "Equitable connectivity is essential for all of our communities to thrive through this pandemic and beyond. Partnerships like the Digital Navigators program are essential to ensuring a more equitable Charlotte and Mecklenburg County."
To learn more, visit digitalcharlotte.org.