NDIA's National Digital Navigator Corps in Rural & Tribal Communities, Launched 2022

We’re Advancing Digital Equity with a Multi-Year Commitment to Rural & Tribal Communities That Will Impact Thousands

Impact

In February 2022, NDIA received a $10 million grant from Google.org to help advance digital inclusion in rural and Tribal communities. Over the next four years, this grant and the National Digital Navigator Corps it supports will have a wide impact on the thousands of people who will benefit from the work on the ground and a long-lasting impact on digital inclusion:

 

AMERIND will gain a staff member dedicated to digital equity in Tribal lands.

 

wifi_symbol

We will be equipped to formalize the Digital Navigator model.

Assets will be publicly available to expand and scale Digital Navigator work nationwide.

 

wifi_symbol

We will gain insight from data collection with partner sites.

With support from

18 Organizational Partners for the

National Digital Navigator Corps Announced 

About the National Digital Navigator Corps

 

In February 2022, National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) received a $10 million grant from Google.org – the largest grant it has received to date – to create a National Digital Navigator Corps. The funding will be used to build and advance local digital inclusion work and to strengthen the digital equity model in rural and Tribal communities.

“When access to the internet, a computer, and tech support keeps a community member from education, work, healthcare, and all the necessities of life, it is heartbreaking. We must address any and all barriers to digital equity. This is what digital navigators do – weave digital support into our social safety net. We’re thrilled to have the support of Google.org to build a digital navigator model in rural and Tribal lands, both supporting those communities and further defining digital navigator programs for the benefit of the whole country.”

– Angela Siefer, NDIA Executive Director

What Is a Digital Navigator?

Digital navigators are trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices. Digital navigators help demystify technology by providing one-on-one ongoing assistance to connect residents to affordable internet, devices, technical skills, and application support.

NDIA has worked alongside more than 20 affiliate organizations and communities over the past two years to develop the digital navigator model. 

 

Where will the National Digital Navigator Corps be based?

After a competitive selection process, 18 community based organizations and Tribal governments were selected to host a digital navigator program and hire a full-time digital navigator to participate in this cohort. All 18 of the sites will provide digital navigator services to rural communities in at least 16 states. Of those, 7 are Tribal-led projects and an additional 3 will serve Tribal communities along with other rural communities. The digital navigator model will be developed and adapted to fit each community.

See list of grantees below.

National Digital Navigator Corps Grantees

  • Alaska Federation of Natives, AK (Tribal-led)
  • Cayuse Native Solutions, OR (Tribal-led)
  • Cherokee Nation (Tribal-led)
  • Community Broadband Action Network Corp, IA
  • Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Inc., AL
  • Computer Reach, PA
  • Easter Seals of Greater Houston, Inc., TX
  • Forest County Broadband Committee, WI (serving Tribal communities)
  • Gila River Broadcasting Corporation: Digital Connect Initiative, AZ (Tribal-led)
  • Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, OH
  • Hoopa Valley Public Utilities District, CA (Tribal-led)
  • Lummi Indian Business Council, WA (Tribal-led)
  • National Digital Equity Center, ME (serving Tribal communities)
  • Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission, OH
  • Pottsboro Area Public Library, TX
  • Pueblo of Jemez, NM (Tribal-led)
  • Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc., KY
  • Washington State University Extension Grays Harbor County, WA (serving Tribal communities)

Digital Navigator Corps FAQ

What is a digital navigator?

Digital navigators are trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices. Digital navigation services include ongoing assistance with affordable internet access, device acquisition, technical skills, and application support. The Corps will span 18 rural and Tribal communities across the United States and impact thousands of people through one-on-one technology training and community outreach to connect people to the internet, appropriate devices, and training.

What is the National Digital Navigator Corps?

NDIA is launching the National Digital Navigator Corps for rural and Tribal communities through a multi-year $10 million grant from Google.org.  We will partner with 18 sites, including a minimum of six sites in Tribal communities and Indian Country. These sites will get our support in launching multi-year digital navigator programs – including in training, outreach, and data collection.

Why is AMERIND Critical Infrastructure (ACI) a partner?

We are partnering with AMERIND, which provides solutions for Tribal broadband deployment. Located on the Pueblo of Santa Ana in New Mexico – a federal enclave – AMERIND Critical Infrastructure (ACI) assists Tribes in planning, building, and financing modern community broadband networks designed to bring 21st century connectivity to their peoples. ACI is a division of AMERIND, a federally chartered and Tribal government-owned risk management company.

ACI will gain a staff member dedicated to supporting digital navigator pilot sites across Indian Country.

 

Can I still apply for this opportunity?

The application period is complete and no future rounds of funding are scheduled at this time. You may sign-up to receive emails about any future funding opportunities that arise.

Who was eligible to apply?

Established community-based organizations (e.g. social service agencies, libraries, and health clinics, etc.) and local agencies that serve rural or Tribal communities are eligible to apply to receive funds to create a digital navigator program.

How is a rural community defined?

We are using the definition from the U.S. Census Bureau to identify what a rural community as “any population, housing, or territory NOT in an urban area.”  Its definition of rural is closely tied to its urban definition. There are two types of urban areas: “Urbanized Areas” – population of 50,000 or more – “Urban Clusters” – population of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 – and “Nonmetro” does not mean rural.

How is a Tribal community defined?

Under 47 C.F.R. § 54.400(e), Tribal lands include any federally recognized Indian tribe’s reservation, pueblo or colony, including former reservations in Oklahoma; Alaska Native regions established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlements Act (85 Stat. 688); Indian Allotments; Hawaiian Home Lands—areas held in trust for Native Hawaiians by the state of Hawaii, pursuant to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, Act July 9, 1921, 42 Stat. 108, et seq., as amended; and any land designated as such by the Commission for purposes of this subpart pursuant to the designation process in § 54.412.  Please note this definition includes both rural and urban areas.

In addition to this definition, we use a more expansive definition also to include off-reservation Tribal trust lands.  This expanded definition has been supported by, for example, the National Congress of American Indians in resolutions and in pleadings to the FCC. We would be happy to discuss Hawaii-specific issues.  We would envision, for example, that a Digital Navigator in Hawaii would work with Native Hawaiians both on and off the Home Lands.

If you have any questions about the way Tribal communities are defined for this program, don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected]

Where can I review information sessions from the application period?

In the first information session, learn about what a digital navigator does, why the model is so effective, what the National Digital Navigator Corps will look like for grantees, and the expected long-term impact for both participating communities and the digital inclusion field at large.

In the second information session, learn more about the grant details, request for letters of intent, and the proposal process for the National Digital Navigator Corps.

How can I learn more about digital navigators?

Information about the digital navigator model is available on NDIA’s digital navigator model page. You can also review the recording of the March 9th informational webinar on this page, which includes an overview of digital navigators.

 

Who can I contact for more information?

Please email NDIA at [email protected].

 

National Digital Navigator Corps in the News

Photos courtesy of National Digital Navigator Corps partner AMERIND.