Seattle boosts community projects
- By Brian Robinson
- Aug 08, 2001
Seattle's 4-year-old Technology Matching Fund program recently increased
its total funding of citizen-driven projects to more than $750,000, with
some $1.6 million in matching community contributions.
A major focus of the program is to help bridge the "digital divide"
for low-income families, those with less education, senior citizens, African
Americans and Hispanics populations that studies say have not yet benefited
from the city's high-tech surge.
Nine projects were awarded $138,000 in the recent round of funding,
from a total of 21 applications. Communities provided more than $344,000
in matching funds.
"The program was initially set up under the government's digital divide
program, which was aimed at simply providing technology resources to underserved
areas," said Emily Bancroft, a member of the Citizen's Technology Literacy
and Access Group in Seattle's Department of Information Technology. "But
we've come to look at it more as a way of building "technology healthy'
communities, where technology is seen as a means of helping communities
accomplish what they want to do."
Projects funded in the latest round of awards include:
* Establishing a technology learning center to develop citizens' computer
literacy and multimedia skills.
* Establishing a small lab where low-income senior citizens in nursing
homes can learn basic computer and Internet skills.
* Upgrading existing computer labs in transitional and low-income housing
The city money for the Technology Matching Fund (www.ci.seattle.wa.us/tech/tmf) comes out of the franchise fees that Seattle
collects from local cable TV service providers. Community matching funds
can be in the form of dollars or, for example, the equivalent in donated
hours of labor or equipment such as software and hardware.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.