In its inaugural round of grantmaking, the Digital Inclusion Fund awarded a total of $200,000 to nine programs that are designed to promote technology access, computer literacy, and information sharing in Minneapolis.
The fund was established in 2007 as part of the City of Minneapolis's contract with US Internet Wireless (USIW), the service provider that was selected to install a citywide broadband wireless network for Minneapolis residents and city employees. The contract included a first-of-its-kind community benefits agreement that directs a portion of the project's funding to programs that bridge the digital divide in the city. Total grant funding will increase to $300,000 this year, once the installation of the wireless network is completed. In 2009 and subsequent years, a percentage of USIW's revenue from the network will be directed to the fund.
A diverse group of 13 Minneapolis residents served as fund advisors and selected the nine grant recipients from a pool of 45 applicants. The grants were disbursed by The Minneapolis Foundation, which manages the fund. Various uses for the grants include technology training classes for Spanish and Somali speakers, computer access labs for low-income residents and disabled people, and digital inclusion for homeless youth.
Grant recipients and amounts are Minneapolis Public Library, $18,588; Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, $8,775; Plymouth Christian Youth Center, $22,500; Project for Pride in Living, $25,000; St. Paul Neighborhood Network, $20,000; The Bridge for Runaway Youth, $25,775; The Church of St. Philip, $30,000; TVbyGirls, $22,262; and Twin Cities Media Alliance, $27,100.