Seattle/ Science, Tech & Medicine
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 14, 2024
Seattle Partners with Verizon and Friendship Circle to Enhance Digital Skills for Differently-Abled YouthSource: Seattle Information Technology

In a collaborative effort to boost digital inclusion, the City of Seattle has joined forces with Verizon and the Friendship Circle of Washington to deliver digital skills training to youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through the Technology Matching Fund (TMF), a program anchored in providing technological access and literacy, Seattle has continued to enrich its community by empowering a diversified youth population. The Friendship Circle's Teen and Young Adult Life Skills program stands as a recipient of these TMF grants, navigating as a beacon of hope for differently-abled teens striving for autonomy.

Marina, whose son benefits from the program, expressed her relief and optimism, saying "The Teen & Young Adult Life Skills has truly jumpstarted my son’s independence. It’s easier for me to picture a future for him now because he’s so much better prepared to enter the broader community successfully." Her sentiment was echoed by the Friendship Circle’s executive director, Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, who highlighted the personalized approach of the initiative. Having Hillel-trained volunteers from the University of Washington, participants receive dedicated attention to foster their digital proficiency. Equipped with laptops provided through the program, after attending a minimum of five sessions, the youth are steered towards a landscape where digital hurdles are less daunting.

Seattle's Digital Equity Program has always emphasized the importance of bridging the digital divide. With TMF grants amassing over $7 million in community investments since its 1998 inception, the recent partnership with Verizon underscores a potent synergy between public aspirations and private sector resources. Azmeena Hasham, Verizon's Executive Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement for Western Washington, alluded to the confluence of goals and benefits within this three-tiered alliance. "Our public-private partnership is a wonderful example of supporting the local community while achieving mutual goals," she said according to a statement on TechTalk, Seattle's technology blog.

Amidst a rapidly evolving technological era, not everyone keeps pace with the flux of new gadgets and applications. Seattle’s interim Chief Technology Officer Jim Loter points out: "Technology is a constant evolution, and it’s hard for anyone to keep up with all the changes, upgrades, new gadgets, and apps. But if you don’t have basic digital skills, you’re behind before you even start," This clarion call for digital empowerment is what invigorates the TMF program to continue striving for inclusivity and enhanced quality of life through significant endeavors like that of the Friendship Circle's program. The shared mission across these organizational boundaries reflects a commitment to a more equitable digital future for all Seattle residents, particularly for its youth poised on the threshold of independence.

Seattle-Science, Tech & Medicine