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Seattle opens funding pool to civic tech innovators

Seattle opens funding pool to civic tech innovators

The city of Seattle, known for its innovation, is trying to live up to its reputation with its Technology Matching Fund to provide capital for innovative ideas for improving city services and public access to digital resources.

This year the city has $470,000 available for matching awards of up to $30,000 each to community groups and nonprofits. The deadline to apply is March 19, 2015.

The city is looking to support projects that, “increase technology literacy, provide access to computers, the Internet and other information technologies and increase civic participation in the use of technology,” according to a notice in Brainstorm, the city government’s community technology e-zine.

Award recipients will be those whose ideas will improve digital equity by “connecting traditionally underserved populations, empower residents with digital literacy skills and encourage diverse communities to use technology for civic participation,” according to the city. 

Established in 1997, the fund was originally intended to “to support the community's efforts to close the digital divide and encourage a technology-healthy city.” 

Past ideas that received funding include projects providing basic technology skills to low income households, upgrading computer labs for senior citizens to provide Internet and Facebook training, assistive technology for people with disabilities and providing online job search and computer training to help immigrants obtain jobs. 

Seattle also offers funding opportunities for school-based projects, though  they must come from proposals by parent-teacher-student groups as schools are not allowed to apply directly.  If awarded to a school-oriented project,  the funds will only go to after school events and projects. 

Meanwhile, the city has launched a digital equity initiative to improve computer skills and online services for Seattle residents. In the next few months, the city said it will seek input from experts and community members to draft a plan for the program.

“As a city, Seattle is known for technology and innovation, yet too many residents do not have sufficient internet access or the skills necessary to participate fully in today’s economy,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding leverages the resources of the community by matching time and funding.”

Posted by Mark Pomerleau on Mar 13, 2015 at 12:23 PM


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