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

National Digital Navigator Corps logo

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

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 is being used to build and advance local digital inclusion work and to strengthen the digital equity model in rural and Tribal communities, in partnership with AMERIND Critical Infrastructure

“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

A group of people posing for a photo with a sign that says "National Digital Navigator Corps"
A group of people posing for a photo with a sign that says "National Digital Navigator Corps"

 

What Is a Digital Navigator?

Digital navigators are individuals who address the whole digital inclusion process — home connectivity, devices, and digital skills — with community members through repeated, one-on-one interactions.

NDIA has worked alongside affiliate organizations and communities over the past three years to develop the digital navigator model. 

Where are the National Digital Navigator Corps members 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.

National Digital Navigator Corps Grantee Organizations & Digital Navigators

National Digital Navigator Corps Grantee Organizations

Click on an organization’s name below to expand the section and read a summary description. 

Alaska Federation of Natives

About Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN)

The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) is the largest statewide Native organization in Alaska. Its membership includes most of the 12 regional for-profit corporations and nearly 200 village for-profit corporations established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), all 12 of the regional non-profit tribal organization that contract and compact to provide federal and state services under the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), and most of Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes. AFN’s mission is to advance and enhance the voice of the Alaska Native community on matters of mutual concern, including the Biden Administration’s initiative to achieve ‘Internet for All.’ Most of the 120,000 Alaska Natives served by AFN live below the federal poverty line. Closing the digital divide promises a better life outcome for Alaska Natives. As such, AFN is bringing digital equity opportunities to Native families–as well as youth and elders–so Native peoples can continue to live traditional subsistence lifestyles, but with modern-day connectivity. It is crucial that Alaska Natives have broadband access, affordable plans, and the digital skills for education, work, and healthcare.

About Emmanuel Sajai Borromeo, AFN’s Digital Navigator

Sajai was born and raised on the island of Maui. He left his tropical home for the rigors of military training and reported to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in July of 1999. Four years later he was awarded his bachelor’s degree in economics and a Commission as an Officer in the United States Navy. He served for 12 years on active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other various locations across the globe. Since leaving active duty he has earned his master’s in business administration from Mississippi State University. Prior to becoming our digital navigator, he was the Director of I.T. for a cargo airline in Anchorage, Alaska for the past 6 years. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife Nicole and 4 children Kellan, Kaia, Kapono, and Kula.

 

Cayuse Native Solutions

About Cayuse Native Solutions

Cayuse Native Solutions (CNS) belongs to the Cayuse Holdings family of companies, which is wholly owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), a federally recognized Indian Tribe headquartered near Pendleton, Oregon. CNS provides innovative and flexible technology solutions to Native Nations, Tribal entities, Native-owned businesses, and organizations that serve Indigenous communities, including Native Hawaiian groups. Their core services include digital marketing, mobile apps, drone services, drone training, and business support services.

CNS’s Digital Inclusion Program serves the CTUIR Tribal community with services focused on accessing affordable internet, acquiring usable and appropriate devices, and helping grow digital skills. Their digital navigator collaborates with CTUIR Tribal government staff to complement and supplement the services provided in support of our community.

The main goals of CNS’s Digital Inclusion efforts are:

  1. Increase the digital skills of CTUIR community members so they may access digital resources to enhance their education and workforce skills.
  2. Build digital knowledge and capacity in the community by collaborating with key service providers and joining their wraparound services.
  3. Create sustainable digital resources and knowledge to help the community beyond the life of this project.

About Leo Wallahee, Cayuse Native Solution’s Digital Navigator

Before joining CNS, Leo spent four years as a Help Desk Agent for one of CNS’ sister companies. His vast experience in numerous customer service roles helps him share knowledge and connect with the people. He wants every person to not only be taken care of, but to feel important and valued as a human being. Leo is an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation and a descendant of the Wenatchapam people. He moved to the Umatilla Reservation 18 years ago. He is married to an enrolled member of the Umatilla Tribe and together they have a family of three girls and one boy.

Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN)

About Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN)

The Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN) is a national organization providing broadband access, education, and support resources to its community and advocate members. Our pilot digital inclusion program currently serves three counties in Southwest Iowa, with both in-person and online training. Topics covered by CBAN’s digital navigator include basic device use, e-safety, practical information literacy such as telemedicine, and employment-related resources. A curated plan for device ownership, access to affordable internet, and training is implemented for each program participant.

CBAN is building additional capacities to demonstrate how to effectively expand programs into other Midwest communities through grants, sponsorships, partnerships, and collaborations. CBAN’s goal is to help other public and social service agencies effectively launch, manage, and track metrics leading to successful programming that increases broadband adoption and use in underserved populations, and then leverage CBAN’s podcast, newsletter, and webinar platforms to drive public awareness of both digital inclusion problems and programming solutions.

About Brianna Dillavou, CBAN’s Digital Navigator

Brianna is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University with a degree in secondary education. She joined CBAN as their digital navigator in 2022. Prior to this role, Brianna taught middle and high school history. Her goal is to bring opportunities, both social and economic, through providing access to digital skills and devices that will enrich and better the lives of those we serve.

Cherokee Nation

About Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation is the largest federally-recognized Tribal Nation in the United States. Cherokee Nation’s reservation spans all or part of 14 counties in northeast Oklahoma and includes 450,000 citizens nationwide.

Cherokee Nation’s digital navigator program primarily focuses on Cherokee citizens and language speakers who have critical or emergent health issues that require the use of telehealth services for ongoing care. Their program is focused on raising awareness about ACP and Lifeline as well as working directly with qualifying citizens on their applications into these programs.

The summarized version of the Cherokee Nation’s mission is to improve the lives of Cherokees for generations to come and the digital navigator program fits right into that mission by reducing some of the stress that comes from both connectivity or being unconnected. Cherokee Nation’s digital navigator program wants to help people find stress free ways to get connected and provide a safe and enjoyable place for them to learn all skills necessary to be successful in a digital world.

About Kendall Lee-Daugherty, Cherokee Nation’s Digital Navigators

Kendall is a member of the Cherokee Nation and has previously served in the military for 8 years in the reserve component, obtaining an honorable discharge in 2020. While serving, Kendall obtained necessary skills through classes, training seminars and field experience to obtain the position of Digital Navigator for the Cherokee Nation. Prior to accepting this role, he has worked mainly in the IT field civilian side, while also taking online courses in Data Analysis, IT, and Data Management.

Kendall’s goals are to help bridge the gap and bring his community up to speed in the digital world, helping develop the necessary skills to ensure they can navigate the digital space comfortably, while also enriching the community.

Computer Reach (PA)

About Computer Reach

Computer Reach is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing technology access to underserved and unserved communities through refurbished equipment, computer literacy training, and support. Their mission targets all segments of populations in need, from older adults and people with disabilities to K-12 students in urban, suburban, and rural areas of Western Pennsylvania.

Computer Reach’s digital navigator program is at the forefront of promoting digital equity. Through personalized 1-on-1 assistance and tech support, both in-person and remotely, they empower individuals to be better suited to use technology to meet their needs. Access to a refurbished computer and affordable internet takes precedence in their mission to empower the community through customizable digital navigator services. Participants are provided with the essential tools and skills to access telemedicine, online bill-paying services, relevant community information, education and job searching skills and tools, and many other critical digital skills

The goal of Computer Reach is to expand the digital navigator program in rural Pennsylvania, partnering with schools, municipalities, and service agencies. They aim to address the community’s needs and bridge the digital divide by hiring a digital navigator from within the community. Through this expansion, they foster digital inclusion, opening doors to opportunities and empowerment for all.

About Sarah Radcliffe, Computer Reach Digital Navigator

Sarah, a graduate with degrees in History and Political Science from Washington & Jefferson College, is devoted to bridging the digital divide in Washington County. Currently residing in California, PA, she addresses the unique challenges faced by this rural coal county, providing in-person digital skills training and free devices to unserved and underserved communities. Drawing from her experiences in City Council, the Clerk of Courts, and Target, Sarah excels in interpersonal skills, effectively assisting individuals. Passionate about digital equity and inclusion, she personally visits homes, empowering users to develop their skills independently. Sarah’s work transforms lives and contributes to the community’s economic growth.

portrait of sarah

Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Inc.

About Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Inc. (CSP)

Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Inc. (CSP) is a private, non-profit community action agency established in 1967. Its mission is to provide resources and services which resolve immediate needs and lead to long-term self-sufficiency for low-income and vulnerable populations. The agency is responsible for administering such Federal programs as Head Start/Early Head Start, Community Service Block Grant, Early Intervention, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Disaster Recovery, and HUD Housing Counseling. Additionally, CSP is a community housing development organization (CHDO) with affordable housing units in rural communities.

About Megan Waiters, CSP’s digital navigator

Megan’s personal mission is to ensure that every client and family that CSP serves has access to digital devices, digital skills, and affordable internet service. She believes that having these vital things will empower and equip families and also decrease the inequalities of financial, racial, and gender disparities throughout the digital community. In her part time, Megan serves as the Library Director for a small rural town and the patrons are eagerly anticipating all of the opportunities that will be available through the Community Service Programs of West Alabama’s digital inclusion initiative. Megan has her bachelor’s degree in psychology, many years’ teaching and training experience in Workforce Development, and a passion to serve others has provided her with another opportunity to do what she loves most–that is to make a positive contribution to the lives of others.

Digital Connect Initiative - Gila River

About Digital Connect

Digital Connect® is an initiative of Gila River Telecommunications, Inc. The purpose of Digital Connect® is to improve the quality of life for the community members and develop future generations of Indigenous people as leaders in technology. 

The goal with the National Digital Navigator Corps program is to make one-on-one connections with the people Digital Connect® serves. Services are open to anyone who lives in or is enrolled in the Gila River Indian Community, and a special emphasis is placed on serving the elders and making sure they feel included in the digital age. Using the digital navigator model, they help people with internet connectivity, device access, tech skills, and improving their general understanding of the digital environment. 

Every month, Digital Connect® hosts Tech Skills Workshops at anchor institutions throughout the reservation. These unstructured sessions provide an opportunity to meet clients’ unique needs at a location convenient to them. They are the number one driver of new clients for digital navigator services. They also afford the opportunity to better understand the digital inclusion ecosystem in Gila River and seek out partners for work in the community. 

About Tyler Smith, Digital Connect’s Digital Navigator

Tyler grew up in the village of Ge’e Ki (Sacaton) in the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and has worked for GRIC for over 10 years. In his free time, Tyler enjoys running and skateboarding. Tyler says, “I view my role as a digital navigator as an opportunity to give back to the community that helped shape me into the person I am today. In this position, I want to help elevate the community’s digital skills and uplift their voices in our efforts to achieve digital equity.”

Easter Seals of Greater Houston

About Easter Seals of Greater Houston

Easter Seals of Greater Houston, Inc. (ESGH) provides help, hope, and answers to veterans and people of all ages living with all types of disabilities and their families. Founded in 1947, ESGH delivers educational, therapeutic, recreational, and respite services to over 15,000 clients and their families in a 21-county service area. With 9 outreach offices and home-based services in rural southeast Texas, ESGH is a trusted community provider.

A nationally recognized leader in mobile technology and winner of the 2014 Verizon Powerful Answers Award in Education, the BridgingApps program provides education and information on apps and devices to help people with disabilities target and improve skills and reach their highest levels of physical and cognitive development.

With 12 years of experience teaching digital skills to clients, BridgingApps aims to reduce the digital divide among underserved individuals and families living in rural areas of southeast Texas through the Digital Navigator program by increasing digital access (broadband connections and device ownership) and teaching digital literacy skills, bringing much-needed digital inclusion to some of the hardest to reach groups that could most benefit from support with broadband connectivity, device ownership, and digital skills to more fully participate in educational, economic, social, and civic opportunities.

About Walter Prescher, Easter Seals of Greater Houston’s Digital Navigator

Walter is a digital navigator at BridgingApps; he has a B.S. in Agricultural Leadership and Development with an emphasis in technology implementation and change management from Texas A&M University, a Masters in Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate in Ministry from Perkins School of Theology at SMU. Walter is an Army Veteran who served three tours in Iraq and after medically retiring from active duty went to seminary to become a pastor serving rural communities. As such, he has a passion for building communities and helping people transform the way they interact with the world. Walter is dedicated to bridging the digital divide and helping people acquire much needed technology and digital literacy especially working with Veterans, the elderly, and those who just struggle with technology.

Forest County Broadband Committee (WI)

About Forest County’s Digital Navigator Program

The Forest County Broadband Committee was established in recent years to highlight the urgency of broadband in rural Forest County, Wisconsin. Nestled deep within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, it’s home to both the Forest County Potawatomi and the Sokaogon Chippewa tribes and a large elderly community that makes up most of its 9,500+ residents. While much of the community has a huge need for digital skills, the biggest challenge is building infrastructure in the thick woods and hilly terrains of north central Wisconsin. Population density is sparse, so getting everyone connected is a real challenge!

The Forest County Broadband Committee is working on building digital equity in Northern Wisconsin by building awareness of broadband issues and making sure all residents of the county are included in the digital ecosystem through education, devices, and connection. To that end, their digital navigator has partnered with the local libraries, schools, Tribal organizations, and the Aging and Disability Resource Center. They continue to build partnerships to reach as much of the Forest County community as they can!

About Steve Watson, Forest County’s Digital Navigator

Steve is very familiar with the connectivity struggles in the Northwoods. He grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and is now raising a family in Forest County. When he’s not effortlessly troubleshooting devices or patiently teaching digital skills, he’s playing his favorite games with his wife and two kids.

portrait of Steve Watson

Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP)

About Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP)

Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) is an antipoverty nonprofit community based organization that mobilizes resources to empower individuals and communities through advocacy and quality services that promote self-sufficiency and improved quality of life in Hocking, Athens, and Perry Counties in rural Appalachian Southeast Ohio. HAPCAP addresses a variety of community needs, many of which arise from high poverty rates, including food insecurity, housing stability, workforce development, childhood development, community development, transportation, and emergency services. HAPCAP sees a substantial need for digital devices and education, the lack of which makes it difficult for covered populations to participate in modern society. The digital navigator position adds another resource for HAPCAP to empower their communities to meet these needs, close the digital divide in their region, and complement their other resources. The three-county region is home to resilient people and communities who work tirelessly with the digital navigator in an effort to make the area digitally inclusive for all. 

About Abby Russell, HAPCAP’s Digital Navigator

Abby Russell (she/her) grew up in Southeastern Ohio and attended the University of Cincinnati. She is passionate about working in the community she grew up in and bringing digital inclusivity and digital skills to the area. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her children, traveling and a good iced coffee.

Hoopa Valley Public Utilities District (HVPUD)

About Hoopa Valley Public Utilities District (HVPUD)

The Hoopa Valley Tribe (HVT) is a federally recognized tribe in Northern California.  The Hoopa people have remained on a portion of their aboriginal territory and were not forcefully removed. One of the ways that the HVT exercises its sovereignty is by managing many of the foundational utilities within the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.  The Hoopa Valley Public Utilities District (HVPUD) is a chartered entity of the HVT. HVPUD currently serves 200 locations with internet services. Digital Navigator resources allows HVPUD to offer a digital skills program that provides formal classes as well as “drop in ” hours at a public library and other locations for citizens to get help with a variety of areas including skills assessment, software basics (Microsoft Office), navigating the internet including media literacy, skill development and popular online tools like Google Docs. The project also purchases devices for eligible recipients to help bridge the connectivity gap and assists individuals with enrollement in the Affordable Connectivity Program.

About Abraham Robert Camez III, HVPUD’s Digital Navigator

Abe moved to Hoopa from Orange County, CA with his family at two years old and has been a lifetime community member ever since. Abe has attended chef school, then went on to the Police Academy, Arson Investigations, Probation Academy and Tribal Court work. Before his current role, Abe was part of the command staff on the Incident Management Team for the Hoopa Tribes COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team as the Safety Officer for three years. In his current role, Abe is still able to support his community and its members through digital skills training, and education with a focus on the elders of the community. His hobbies include riding his Harley-Davidson, barbecue, BBQ competition, and catering, and Abe has designed and built a custom smoker.

Jemez Pueblo

About Jemez Pueblo

We are Native American Tribal members from the Pueblo of Jemez. We live on a small reservation where we value our culture and carry on traditions. We fluently speak our Native language which is known as “Towa”. As the world evolves in technology there is a need to bridge the digital gap.

Jemez Pueblo Tribal Network (JNET) was established in November 2020. It’s a Tribally owned Internet Service Provider. JNET Digital Navigator program’s goal is to create a technology bridge to give their clients a better understanding of the new internet service that was installed to benefit their household, to explain and introduce digital devices and assist in setting up smart devices, and to teach basic digital literacy skills to help bridge the technology gap. JNET Digital Navigators use their native language Towa to communicate and teach their Tribal members.

About Jordan Chinana, Jemez Pueblo’s Digital Navigator

Jordan was born and raised in the Pueblo of Jemez. As a fluent Towa speaker, Jordan is easily approachable by community members. He assists in home internet installations, setting up of smart devices in client’s homes. He also teaches digital skills courses both in Towa and English. Currently there are several different projects he is hoping to deploy as digital navigator, such as creating digital media and how-to videos in the Towa language. Also working on community events to provide ACP outreach and recruit for upcoming skills courses.

Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC)

About Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC)

The Lummi Nation is a federally recognized Tribal Government. The Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC) is located on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham, WA. Workforce Development is a department within LIBC which provides all employment and training services available to the nearly 6,000 Tribal members. The LIBC has invested in programs and services aimed at helping members prepare for the workforce through education, training and skills development. Programs also provide support services that help members reduce barriers that may prevent them from acquiring or keeping jobs. Despite the investment, there is still a need to improve the Lummi reservation income level, educational attainment level, and poverty rate. LIBC’s digital navigator is greatly needed in order to assist Tribal members with the necessary tools to reach their potential and improve their quality of life. 

LIBC’s overarching goal of this project is to increase access to affordable internet, technical skills, and application support in order to prepare participants for the workforce and obtain a good quality job. Their goal is to provide technical training to youth and adults to build understanding and empower community members to become productive, skilled citizens. As the community grows, the need for technical literacy becomes more important. The Lummi community will also benefit by being taught how to gain information and how to communicate. 

About Patricia Ballew, Lummi Indian Business Council’s Digital Navigator

Patricia Ballew (James), a Lummi Tribal member, graduated from Lummi High school in 2001 and worked for many of the Tribal entities, where she obtained many experiences. She has worked as a cocktail server for the SRC, assistant manager for Lummi Bay Markets, and as a safety officer for LIBC. Patricia is passionate about learning new experiences, to open more opportunities for future endeavors. She is motivated by her parents Betty James and Leland Julian/McIntyre, father Ruben Anaya, sisters Kristina and Yolanda, husband James Ballew, Children Siomarah and Kalani Ballew, Sebastian (Joslyn) Kinley, and grandchildren Taidence and Macauley.

National Digital Equity Center (NDEC)

About the National Digital Equity Center (NDEC)

The National Digital Equity Center (NDEC) is a recognized leader across Maine and the United States for digital equity and digital inclusion. NDEC advocates for digital inclusion, which includes affordable broadband, affordable equipment, and public computer access. They focus on creating digitally skilled citizens across Maine and beyond, providing communities with the expertise to mobilize broadband technologies through digital inclusion efforts. 

In 2018, NDEC established the Maine Digital Inclusion Initiative (MDII) to provide Maine people greater access to the components necessary to achieve digital equity, such as the ability to connect to affordable broadband, access to affordable equipment to use the internet, digital skills training, and public computer access. To promote digital inclusion, NDEC hosts free, public digital skills classes at partner onsite locations in all 16 Maine counties, and all 40+ class topics are also available each month in an online, interactive format. 

NDEC’s digital navigator program began in 2021 with “Virtual Digital Navigators.” Today, NDEC leads a robust statewide program and provides training for NDEC staff, community, and volunteer digital navigators, as well as a “Need Help?” referral program for Maine residents where digital navigators are matched with people who need digital inclusion assistance.

About Rachel Williams, NDEC’s Digital Navigator
Rachel was born in Germany, raised in North Carolina, and has spent her adult years in New Hampshire and Maine raising her family and working in education and human services. She is now putting down roots in Downeast by working on her 19th century cape and building a new garden in Eastport. She loves cooking and preserving the bounty from her garden (and food projects in general!), making connections in her community, and growing and putting to work her skills in coding and energy efficiency technologies.

Rachel is very excited to be the first digital navigator in Washington County and looks forward to helping people gain the skills to bridge the digital divide.

About Marci Gaglione, NDEC’s Digital Navigator
Marci first came in contact with the National Digital Equity Center through our tablet hotspot program that helped connect people to the internet in areas where there is limited coverage. “Isolation and loneliness have been a pandemic in rural Maine long before Covid-19,” says Marci. Now a Digital Skills Instructor and the ACP Outreach Manager, Marci teaches a variety of classes as well as consistently keeping our classes and training material surrounding the FCC Affordable Connectivity Program up to date. As a Washington County Digital Navigator, she teaches and provides one-on-one assistance in helping families apply for the FCC Affordable Connectivity Program.

Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission (NOCAC)

About Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission (NOCAC)

Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission (NOCAC) is a private, non-profit corporation that was created in 1965 to combat poverty in their primary service area of Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Van Wert, and Williams counties in rural northwest Ohio. This is done by connecting individuals to opportunities and resources that support a secure future. The Financial Empowerment Program is designed to assist low-to-moderate income families and individuals in achieving their financial goals. Many times, these financial goals can only be met by first connecting clients to the digital world. Digital navigators achieve this by connecting clients to more affordable internet services, appropriate devices, & basic digital skills training, essentially creating a bridge toward increased career opportunities that improve the financial stability of their clients. Partnering with local senior centers, the digital navigator also provides services that increase the elderly population’s understanding of technology and combat feelings of social isolation, providing new ways for them to connect with their families and friends both near and far.

Pottsboro Area Public Library (TX)

About Pottsboro Library

The Pottsboro Library is a community hub that serves Grayson County, Texas. The mission of librarians is to improve society by facilitating knowledge creation. The Pottsboro Library connects people with the resources they need to reach their aspirations. 

Rural areas have specific challenges, such as a low population density and limited public service provision, that impact how people live and work. Digital technology can respond to these challenges by providing rural residents with new ways of accessing services, creating new opportunities for rural businesses, and fostering stronger social and business networks. However, the ability of rural areas to respond to these opportunities continues to be hampered by relatively poor internet accessibility. As a third place that welcomes everyone, libraries are a natural organization to support digital inclusion. 

Pottsboro Library’s digital navigator has established strong working relationships with community partners which increases impact. Going forward they will continue to identify and disseminate best practices for libraries involved in achieving digital equity.  

About Mark Revolinski, Pottsboro Library’s Digital Navigator

Mark is a recently retired management professional with thirty-eight plus years of progressive experience in the telecommunications and service provider industry. Mark and his wife moved to Texas from Wisconsin after retirement in 2021 to be closer to their grandchildren. They have been married for 40 years, have two daughters, and four grandchildren; three granddaughters and one grandson. Their ages range from four years to two years old. Mark enjoys spending time with the grand-kids, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and basically anything that has to do with the outdoors.

Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) (KY)

About Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR)

Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) is a nonprofit serving economically distressed communities in Eastern Kentucky. SOAR was brought into existence by the collapse of the coal economy, which had been the region’s signature industry. SOAR’s mandate is to make Eastern Kentucky and its communities prosperous again. SOAR’s strategic plan, which was community-led and organized, lists Broadband & Connectivity as #1 on the list. Eastern Kentucky contains the largest geographical swath of poverty in the U.S. Despite the challenges, SOAR remains optimistic for one clear reason: the Internet. SOAR believes the Internet is the greatest equalizer of opportunity the world has ever seen, and it can level the playing field for impoverished Eastern Kentucky communities in education, employment, and healthcare. While broadband infrastructure is important, as important is the ability to know how to use it. SOAR’s Office of Digital Equity and its digital navigator strive to connect every Eastern Kentuckian to the digital world of today. It does this through:

  • FCC Affordable Connectivity Program signup assistance
  • Device distribution program
  • Free digital skilling classes
  • Virtual job fairs for remote work jobs
  • Free six month software development training program called Code Kentucky that helps Eastern Kentuckians find remote employment in tech

About Ashely Smith, SOAR’s Digital Navigator

Ashley holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education from Morehead State University and an Interactive Digital Media Design from Eastern Gateway College. Recently, Ashley worked as an educator, case manager, and developmental interventionist. She utilizes this experience to work closely with communities across Appalachia Kentucky offering vital digital skills, internet access, and digital knowledge. Through her efforts, more individuals struggling with economic mobility will know how to leverage the internet in a way that leads to improved economic and educational outcomes. In turn, more distressed communities will have the chance to grow and prosper.

Washington State University Extension - Grays Harbor County

About Grays Harbor Digital Navigator Program

Serving a population of nearly 80,000 individuals, Grays Harbor Digital Navigators partner with the county, WSU Extension, the Quinault Indian Nation, and the Chehalis tribe. The bands and Tribes that make up the present-day Chehalis Tribe include the Upper Chehalis, Lower Chehalis, Cowlitz, Satsop, and Qwalioqua. The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) consists of the Quinault and Queets tribes and descendants of five other coastal Tribes: Quileute, Hoh, Chehalis, Chinook, and Cowlitz. Washington State University (WSU) Extension Grays Harbor County is a collaboration between WSU and Grays Harbor County (the “County”). Extension educators located in the county provide research-based education locally in fields such as youth and family development, agriculture, natural resources, community economic development, and now digital navigators. By partnering with the community, digital navigators work to identify needs in the county and develop a trusted presence by hosting digital skills classes, attending community events, and working one-on-one in libraries and community centers. Digital navigators work hard to ensure that Grays Harbor County is a connected community.

Hear from Some of the National Digital Navigator Corps Digital Navigators

Walter is dedicated to combining his technical background from his years in the Army and his experiences as a rural pastor together to bridge the digital divide and helping people acquire much needed technology and digital literacy.

Walter Prescher

Digital Navigator, Easter Seals of Greater Houston

I am passionate about helping as many people as I can as often as I can. I have always been interested and involved with advocacy and activism and I love that I get to advocate for people in my community and help them join the digital world.

Sarah Radcliffe

Digital Navigator, Computer Reach

Occupying the space as a Digital Navigator for my community, I feel I’ve help start the conversation of Digital Equity. I have access to present and attend at local community gatherings and meet with head department officials which allows me the opportunity to uplift and echo community members voices on the spectrum of digital inclusion. I’ve also had the privilege of connecting with people and hearing their stories and experiences and become a part of their journey.

Tyler Smith

Digital Navigator, Digital Connect - Gila River Indian Community

National 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 gained a staff member dedicated to supporting digital navigator Tribal pilot sites and digital inclusion 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.

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

Partner Organizations

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Photos courtesy of National Digital Navigator Corps partner AMERIND.