News and analysis
May 21, 2015

New Google Fellowship Pays for Nonprofits to Build Digital Literacy

People walk into a Google Fiber store.
Matthew Busch, Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google Fiber will place digital literacy fellows with organizations in eight cities with access to its high-speed internet service, like Austin, Texas, seen here.

Google Fiber and the Nonprofit Technology Network are creating a Digital Inclusion Fellowship to help nonprofits bolster their digital-literacy programs and help the people they serve build basic technology skills.

Sixteen fellows will be selected to work for a year at community organizations in eight cities that have or will soon have access to Google Fiber, a high-speed fibe-roptic Internet service: Atlanta, Austin, Tex. Charlotte, N.C., Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Provo, Utah, Salt Lake City, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

According to Andrew Bentley, Google Fiber’s digital-inclusion program manager, the program is meant to address all steps required to use the Internet, including cultivating online skills and increasing access to affordable digital devices.

"Digital inclusion is the process of building an environment where all people have the opportunity to get online, especially those in underserved communities," Mr. Bentley said.

The program will especially focus on helping people adopt high-speed Internet in their homes and helping nonprofits build their capacity for technology training.

The Nonprofit Technology Network, which is handling recruitment and placement for the fellowship, is looking for applicants with strong ties to the cities where they’ll be working and five to seven years of experience working with nonprofits or community organizations.

Training and Stipends

After fellows are selected, Google Fiber will train them for one week in July and pay them $33,000 (plus benefits) for their year of full-time work. Google also will give participating nonprofits stipends of $5,000 to $10,000 for new programs. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will provide support for fellows in Charlotte, N.C.

Organizations say the effort fills a need that they haven’t had the opportunity to address.

"This is a position we’ve dreamed of having, but there’s never been resources for it, and there’s never been — pardon the pun — bandwidth to take this on," said Austin Dickson, executive director of Literacy Action, a nonprofit in Atlanta that will hire a fellow. "Having a digital literacy specialist is a real boon to us."

Mr. Bentley said this fellowship is a pilot program that Google Fiber hopes will lead to longer-term efforts. At Literacy Action, Mr. Dickson has reason to hope it will: A donor has already offered to provide funding for another year of the fellowship if the work proves successful.

Fellowship applications are open through June 10.

Send an e-mail to Rebecca Koenig.