OVERVIEW

SJI’s Partnerships & Community Pathways team provides career navigation and support services to adults in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties. One key component of all SJI programmatic initiatives is Digital Bridge, a service providing free laptops, hotspots, and internet to participants in need. This technology is gifted along with culturally competent digital literacy training in multiple languages.

Digital Bridge is based on five elements: recruit, assess, provide, teach, and support. Each element is integral to the program’s success and the participant’s future.

As of September 2022, Digital Bridge:

1,100+

Digital devices gifted
(laptops, tablets, and/or hotspots)

730+

People received digital literacy training and tech support

15+

Community partnerships created

SUCCESS STORY

Seema

The youngest daughter in the family, Seema is solely responsible for supporting her family of seven because her father speaks very little English and has not been able to find a job. Through SJI’s partnership with International Rescue Committee, she was referred to us for intensive career navigation support and was given a laptop and basic digital skills training. This empowered Seema to begin her job search and in April 2022, she found employment at Kate Quinn Organics as a Warehouse Associate. She is currently working at Motif Seattle as a Front Desk Receptionist.

Seema’s long-term goal is to attend college and earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

HISTORY

Digital Bridge was initially developed as a pilot project in response to the coronavirus recession, which triggered job losses, particularly impacting people of color, younger workers, refugees and immigrants, and the housing insecure. It was launched in July 2020 by the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) in partnership with Comcast, Seattle Jobs Initiative, Seattle Information Technology Department (Seattle IT), Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School, and InterConnection

Through this pilot, SJI participants in various workforce development programs were equipped with computers and internet connections to complete their training programs that are now offered remotely due to COVID-19, and apply for job opportunities.

Read more about the pilot program launch here.

RESEARCH

Through extensive quantitative and qualitative program analysis, our Policy Research team learned:

  • Digital access alone is not enough.
  • Program enrollment must consider the participants’ needs and barriers.
  • Training coupled with case management resulted in additional benefits: accessing other services, job and housing searches, finding legal and consumer information, and communicating with friends, families, and potential employers online.
  • Structured training with an instructor is needed to introduce them to gateway skills and ensure that they are clearing key gateway points.
  • Participants need reliable, in-language support for their technical needs.

The findings from this analysis were published in 2021. You can read the full report here.