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Foundations team up to bridge technology gap in Palm Beach County

$500K plan working to expand internet access
Posted at 6:27 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 15:33:33-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Two foundations are working together to close the technology gap in Palm Beach County. Their $500,000 plan is working to connect families in low-income communities to opportunities.

Eric Kelly spends his days thinking about outcomes.

He is the president of Quantum Foundation, the largest health funder in the county.

Kelly said the COVID-19 pandemic made the digital divide difficult to ignore.

This sparked a partnership with Community Foundation, which comes with $500,000 to help eliminate the divide.

Eric Kelly
Quantum Foundation president Eric Kelly said the COVID-19 pandemic made the digital divide difficult to ignore.

"Think of it this way, people without access to the internet, they learn less, earn less and live less," Kelly said.

The Northend of West Palm Beach is one of four areas they are targeting, where they say the digital divide is only growing.

"Infrastructure to the devices, to the affordability, those are the first components. But what we realized is there is also this idea of skill and adoption," Kelly said.

Community Partners of South Florida is helping with implementation.

"We’re going to both use that funding to get technology and Wi-Fi access, but also to hire three community tech navigators that will be in the communities we are working in," said Scott Hansel, CEO of Community Partners of South Florida. "[The navigators will teach people] how to use virtual school software platforms. ... teach parents how to get online and do mobile banking."

Scott Hansel, CEO of Community Partners of South Florida
Scott Hansel, the CEO of Community Partners of South Florida, says the funding will help expand Wi-Fi access to communities in need.

Djenaba Gregory-Faal is a virtual fitness trainer who helps seniors in low-income communities.

"Prior experience is probably the biggest push-back. I tried this before, and it didn’t work," said Djenaba Gregory-Faal.

She said the need is tools and teaching.

"Being a person who can engage at a grassroots level in a community definitely helps to bridge the emotional gap that can get to the digital gap," said Gregory-Faal.