The need for more accessible and affordable technology to connect seniors and people with disabilities doesn’t end when the state officially opens.
Just because everyone is no longer sheltering in place doesn’t mean people — especially in underserved communities — don’t struggle with a lack of digital access, digital literacy, or tech support that have become so fundamental to our connected lives.
That’s why Community Living Campaign has partnered with the San Francisco Tech Council to regrant $50,000 in Equity and Innovation funding from Metta Fund to five community-based organizations that work to close the digital divide. We want to accelerate that work to decrease social isolation and improve wellness.
“We’re giving an opportunity to organizations that don’t have access to other funding so they can pilot ways to reduce social isolation and loneliness through tech access,” said Margot Rose Lederer, the equity and innovation pilot coordinator for the SF Tech Council.
“The pandemic was not all that different for some isolated seniors or adults with mobility challenges or who didn’t have access to transportation,” she said. “They always needed ways to connect to the world around them. It’s hard for them to attend things in person anyway, and that isn’t about to change.”
The whole grant process has also highlighted the need for multi-lingual tech training, so we’ve encouraged and supported groups that offer that.
Here are the organizations that received the grants.
Curry Senior Center
This group is funding Vietnamese-language digital literacy and tech training by lending tablets. This project focuses on the Tenderloin neighborhood, while the group also seeks to serve the LGBT community.
They’re providing tablets, training support and internet connectivity. They’re also expanding their digital resource programs for seniors.
Family Caregiver Alliance
They’re providing tablets, in-home support and internet connectivity for six months to Spanish-speaking caregivers. The goal is to improve health outcomes for the client as well as enable more professional learning and support for the caregivers. Caregivers have become especially isolated during the pandemic without the benefit of in-person and direct support.
“This group has struggled more with shifting to Zoom, in part because of their lack of tech,” Margot said. “Family caregivers also suffer from isolation and exhaustion due to the 24/7 nature of their roles.”
“The focus here is on improving connectivity and access to health services for an often transient population,” Margot said. “That’s a challenge because it’s hard to keep in touch with people who move more than most.”
The Institute specializes in helping people with behavioral health challenges throughout the city; it’s in a good position to help this population.
Mission Neighborhood Center
This grant focuses on a small group of LatinX, Spanish-speaking seniors in the Mission District, partnering with health providers to improve wellness and fitness.
This group had exercise classes and health screenings before the pandemic. The grant enables them to integrate digital devices, like Fitbit step trackers. That lets individuals monitor themselves and keep up with their activities, Margot said.
This nonprofit tech organization customizes tablets to make them simpler to use, targeting Chinese seniors. They’re also providing in-home support and internet connectivity. That makes it easier to participate in social activities and connect with family.
In particular, the tablets are designed for those with cognitive decline and linguistic, cultural and personal limitations.
Since receiving funding, this group has also incorporated classes on racism. The rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has increased the tension and fear, especially in the senior community.
“In these pilots, we’ve enabled groups to innovate and iterate as the project progresses if they see an additional service they can contribute,” Margot said.
To find out more about the SF Tech Council, visit their website.
Learn more about other ways CLC helps people connect through technology, read this.