HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced new awards totaling nearly $900,000 to connect Pennsylvania workers with the skills they need to effectively navigate the technology platforms used in today’s workplaces.
L&I selected 21 recipients for Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grants, which will help workers develop basic digital skills they need to apply for jobs and succeed in new careers.
“Technology used in the workplace will always evolve, so our workforce development strategies must also evolve to secure Pennsylvania’s competitive edge in the global economy,” Berrier said. “These grants empower local organizations to build skillsets within their labor force that employers expect workers to possess. When worker skillsets match employer demands, Pennsylvania’s communities and its overall economy grow stronger.”
This is a second round of digital-literacy funding that builds on $1.3 million awarded in April 2021 to support local programs that provide computer-skills training to help people find good jobs in Pennsylvania. Digital-literacy grants support the Commonwealth’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Combined State Plan and are 100 percent federally funded.
The grants support the following organizations and projects.
Project HOME (Philadelphia – $45,000)
The Practical Skills Computer Workshop is a new program that builds on successful workforce programming. Individuals looking for employment will gain digital-literacy qualifications and skills to meet the demands of an evolving job market and the procedural knowledge to seek employment, earn a living wage, and have the opportunity for advancement and pay increases.
Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition (SEAMAAC) (Philadelphia – $45,000)
SEAMAAC’s Digital Literacy & Access Project will provide digital-literacy classes to low-income immigrants and refugees in need of beginner-level English skills and digital-literacy skills for employment. The grant will support these individuals with digital-access resources, such as free and/or low-cost digital devices, hot-spots, and internet services to support their employment goals.
IHM Center for Literacy and GED (Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties – $45,000)
The grant will support the work of the IHM Center for Literacy to serve more than 350 adult learners each year through literacy and English language classes at sites in southwest Philadelphia and lower northeast Philadelphia.
Montgomery County Workforce Development Board (MontcoWorks) (Montgomery County – $45,000)
The project will expand digital literacy to Montgomery County residents in partnership with Full Circle Computing, which has implemented a similar program successfully in Chester County. Full Circle will provide digital-literacy training for Montgomery County’s most affected populations with a focus on those seeking employment in areas of greatest need.
William Jeanes Memorial Library (Montgomery County – $34,543.52)
The library will purchase 12 laptop computers, update its A/V equipment to include videoconferencing microphones, cameras and projectors, and implement a technology curriculum of classes that introduce foundational technologies from computer basics to online digital literacy taught by masters-level reference librarians and a contractor with experience in technology tutoring and implementation.
The Literacy Center (Lehigh and Northampton counties – $45,000)
The Literacy Center (TLC) will deliver digital literacy instruction to 300 Lehigh Valley adults, including the unemployed and under-employed, individuals without a high school diploma, and English language learners. TLC will leverage existing relationships within these communities and referrals from community organizations to recruit participants in the program.
The Neighborhood Academy (Allegheny County – $45,000)
The Neighborhood Academy, a non-profit school educating underserved students from the Pittsburgh region, will offer digital-literacy and career-readiness services to 80 high school students. The program will coach students in social responsibility, help students develop a stronger understanding of the risks and dangers of the digital world, and provide career exposure and access across the Pittsburgh region.
Computer Reach (Allegheny County – $45,000)
For 20 years, Computer Reach has worked to get free or low-cost technology into the hands of those who need it. This grant will expand the digital-literacy curriculum and offerings, add modules for job seekers as well as more advanced software skills, and include digital citizenship for professionals to serve 75 job seekers in Allegheny County.
Jasmine Nyree Homes, Inc. (Allegheny County – $45,000)
The Digital Literacy Improvement Project works to support unemployed or underemployed adults by helping them develop problem-solving, digital-literacy and critical-thinking skills essential to conducting successful job search activities, accessing and utilizing networking platforms and creating a professional profile that leads to employment.
WLN Libraries: Delmont Public Library/Greensburg Hempfield Area Library (Westmoreland County – $39,462)
The public libraries will collaborate to teach children and youth about digital literacy with an emphasis on high-demand STEM careers of the future. The project will include adult engagement but will focus on the long-term needs of children, PreK-2 through teen.
Cambria County Library System (Cambria County – $45,000)
The Pop-Up Computer Lab program, a partnership between Cambria County Library and PA CareerLink®, will help residents establish basic digital literacy and begin using the courses offered by PA CareerLink® — better positioning them to make resumes, apply for jobs online, and obtain North Star certifications.
Northern Cambria Public Library (Cambria County – $11,000)
Northern Cambria Public Library serves as a hub for community members to technology which they normally would not have access to due to lack of broadband infrastructure and economic status. The library aims to staff a dedicated digital-literacy lab where the community can learn about existing and emergent technology, with the goal of improving local digital literacy, especially among the older population.
Ephrata Public Library (Lancaster County – $45,000)
In Ephrata, nearly 12 percent of the community lives below the poverty line. Another 39 percent live barely above the federal poverty line. Access to the internet is crucial for households to communicate, search for jobs, complete schoolwork and participate in other important activities like banking, health care access and consumer research. The library is the place where anyone without reliable internet access can come to do all the above activities.
York County Literacy Council (York County – $30,000)
York County Literacy Council (YCLC) will assist adults in their pursuit to be digitally literate. In today’s digital world, nearly every career requires digital communication at some point. Students will learn how to find and consume digital content. They will learn how to create, communicate and share digital content, as well as learn the basics of internet safety.
Greater Erie Community Action Committee (Erie County – $45,000)
The project will support workers with education on digital fundamentals and job-seeking support. The program will offer lessons on typing, Excel, PowerPoint, email, video conferencing, PDF creation and editing, document organization, scanning and printing documents, safe internet use, seeking and filling out online applications, resume and cover letter creation and attachment to applications.
Corry Higher Education Council (Erie County – $44,495)
The Corry Higher Education Council, in collaboration with Penn State Behrend, will provide digital-fluency training to the community by leveraging an infrastructure project designed to transform the area with fiber-optic connectivity for homes, businesses and the school district through awarded grants and tax credit donations from regional businesses.
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants/Erie Field Office (Erie County – $45,000)
The project will provide linguistically and culturally competent digital-literacy instruction for a minimum of 120 refugees who have been in the U.S. for fewer than 5 years. The program will include formal instruction and open lab time, with four curriculum units of specific benefit to newly arrived refugees.
Rebecca M. Arthurs Library (Clarion, Jefferson and Venango counties – $45,000)
The libraries will use the funding to purchase mobile technology, including laptops and iPads, for larger trainings and to hire staff to teach individuals how to use the digital resources on a weekly basis. By using experienced personnel, the libraries will expand existing job programs and trainings, giving the unemployed or underemployed marketable technology skills.
West Central Workforce Development Board (West Central Job Partnership) (Lawrence and Mercer counties – $45,000)
The project will support eight-week, in-person cohorts with the goal of working intensively with at least 40 individuals with low levels of digital literacy to improve their technology skills, especially in the area of career-search skills. The project aims to help individuals earn certificates for digital-literacy competencies.
Lackawanna County Workforce Development Board (Lackawanna County – $45,000)
The Lackawanna County Workforce Development Board, in collaboration with Marywood University and the PA CareerLink® Lackawanna County, will develop a series of instructor-led cohorts that address the central need for job seekers to possess comprehensive computer-literacy skills to acquire family-sustaining employment in today’s job market.
Pocono Counties Workforce Development Board (Workforce Wayne, Inc.) (Pike and Wayne counties – $44,953)
The digital divide in the region is real, with internet access cost-prohibitive for lower-income families. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated an even greater need for digital-literacy training. The grant will support efforts to help community members learn how to use technology.
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