Mecklenburg County opened a second window of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, accepting proposals to move the County’s COVID-19 Strategic Recovery Plan forward. In that plan, the Library is tasked to “invest more resources in closing the digital divide in our community faster through efforts in place now.”
Over the next three years, an investment of $2.9 million will cover multiple strategies to increase the Library’s capacity to meet this goal, specifically targeting older adults and ESOL* learners, and those seeking employment or to upskill for future advancement.
A final goal is to address the connectivity and digital literacy needs of the 20,000 citizens receiving free devices through the MeckTech initiative. Funding will cover Digital Literacy (DigiLit) expansion including supplemental instructors, refreshed programming and an additional Outreach vehicle to expand mobile services. The plan also includes acquiring digital resources and collections to serve high-need populations and providing free Wi-Fi hotspots and Wi-Fi enabled laptops for customer checkout.
“I hope you are excited to see the depth of the investment in addressing the digital divide, particularly in items that will help build capacity,” said Caitlin Moen, Chief Library Services Officer. “Thank you to the many folks who helped make this happen.”
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library continues to be a leading example for improving digital equity and expanding digital literacy.
*English for Speakers of Other Languages