Gateway to Digital Equity

Montclair Gateway has begun its effort by forming relationships with Laptop Upcycle, Secure the Call, and Montclair Public Library to circulate digital connectivity devices to older citizens. Additionally, we have forged a two-pronged relationship with Montclair State University: 1) for development and distribution of a comprehensive connectivity survey, and 2) for a SmartSeniors/Smartphones pilot project to train a target population on Smartphone usage and evaluate the effort’s effectiveness. Both are central to the Gateway’s goal of empowering our older residents to age in place and remain contributors to our community’

Goal One: To conduct a comprehensive survey of connectivity and competency among our older citizens. The results of this survey will inform local public policy and our strategy going forward. The foundational premise of this action is to start down the path toward connectivity and communication equity in our community. Gateway will assess the usable digital resources in sample households and collect data about learning styles and connectivity barriers.

Goal Two: To initiate a pilot study of 25 trainees who strive to improve their personal smart phone usage and whose motivation, skill level, and financial need fit the Gateway project criteria. The objectives are to test training hypotheses & evaluation instruments, to reevaluate the effectiveness of the process, and to continuously improve the process (CPI).

Implementation Partners for Goal 2 are MSU and MPL. Some typical objectives might be how to get on-line, use email, Zoom, search the internet, contact grandchildren, conduct on-line business (e.g., banking), participate in tele-health visits, identify scams, take on-line educational courses, etc.

Montclair Gateway does not intend to reinvent the wheel or create redundant services – that is the beauty and the leverage point of a virtual enterprise. Gateway wants to support expansion of access to services. Expansion requires connectivity to and competency in accessing the resources of the digital world. Through the Gateway TEAM (GTEAM) process, we will demonstrate to each trainee how access to these partner organizations will empower them and expand their community involvement.

Many of our collaborators already provide digital services, but older residents who are cut off from our digital world are cut off from these resources, too. Our goal is to bridge this gap in order to help Montclair seniors age in place.

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