Funded by a $23.3 million grant from the MassHire Metro North Workforce Board, the city will be implementing a Digital Navigator Program designed to assist residents with Internet access.
According to representatives from the city’s Human Resources Department, five Everett High School students will be selected as Digital Navigators. They will be students who are interested in pursuing a career in Information Technology. They will be compensated at $15 per hour for 200 hours.
“The city will have in-person service, phone communication and Zoom appointments available. Residents seeking assistance will call 311 and those calls will be routed to the Digital Navigators,” said Human Resources personnel. “Digital Navigators will be assisting residents with internet issues such as checking WiFi signal, helping see internet speed, or something as simple as helping someone who is locked out of Facebook.”
The program is scheduled to begin in May and will run through the end of June. However, the Human Resources Department anticipates that the program will be extended for an additional eight weeks.
“Since the pandemic, the city noticed residents need a more reliable and consistent form of communication,” said Human Resources personnel. “So, digital access became a massive contributor to everyone staying informed about what was going on in the world. The Digital Navigators’ job is to provide individualized or small group assistance or coaching in introductory digital skills.”
In addition, students will enroll in Signal Success Training through the Commonwealth Corporation which is required by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.
The Digital Navigator Program stems from a larger collaboration with the Massachusetts Area Planning Council (MAPC). According to the MAPC, approximately 20 percent of homes in Gateway Cities are without Internet access. Ryan Kelly, digital services manager for the MAPC, said a Digital Equity Plan has been in the works for the past year to improve Internet access in Everett, Malden and Revere. He said the MAPC now serves as a liaison between local communities and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.