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Digital Inclusion More Urgent Than Ever

New Ve’ahavta report reveals the unignorable impacts of the digital divide. 

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April 7, 2021 (Toronto, ON): Internet access and digital literacy have become critical necessities in order to fully participate in nearly every aspect of modern society. Evaluation of Impacts of Digital Access and Literacy, commissioned by Ve’ahavta, reveals the stark digital divide experienced by the GTA’s most at risk.

Ve’ahavta’s essential life skills and job readiness training programs Building Foundations for Women and the Ve’ahavta Skills Academy, designed to support those facing poverty and instability, were previously offered in person in a classroom setting. Due to COVID-19, at the beginning of 2020 these high-impact programs were forced to pivot to a digital format, however, with this demographic this was a significant challenge for the majority of participants, as 57% did not own a digital device.

Ve’ahavta’s Solution: Bridging the Digital Divide:

  • In 2020 over 135 digital devices with internet access were distributed to Ve’ahavta program clients, to keep.
  • For the first time in over 10 years of this type of programming, the 2020 Ve’ahavta essential skills courses, experienced a 100% graduation rate.
  • The resulting Evaluation of Impacts of Digital Access and Literacy commissioned by Ve’ahavta revealed the positive impact that bridging the digital divide has on individuals, families and communities.

Key Findings:

Access to technology enables those experiencing the digital divide to learn new skills, and be competitive in the job market:

  • 96% of participants intend to take future courses online.
  • 79% reported an increase in applying for/searching for new jobs.

Devices provided for study also help support increased mental health and connectivity for participants as well as their families (critical during COVID-19):

  • 100% of participating clients reported improved mental health.
  • 82% reported an increase in finding health information or support services.
  • 71% help friends or family access/use the internet.

The Ve’ahavta report outlines recommendations that will inform future programming centred around digital literacy to ensure that everyone can fully participate in society, and to ensure that more people can get ahead. Read Evaluation of Impacts of Digital Access and Literacy at veahavta.org/digitalinclusionforall.

Quotes:

“True inclusion in modern society is only possible with access to devices and the internet, combined with the confidence and digital literacy skills to use them effectively. Bridging the digital divide requires access, training and support. We’re not a tech company but we believe that in order for people affected by poverty and homelessness to move from instability toward self-sufficiency, they need digital inclusion and they need it now.”
-Cari Kozierok, Executive Director, Ve’ahavta

“My digital skills have empowered me in many different ways. They’ve put me on the path to continue to become. Everyone who is in need, or at a vulnerable stage of their lives, should have access to this type of support.”
-Verna Oppong, 2020 Graduate, Ve’ahavta’s Skills Academy

Ve’ahavta is a Toronto-based Jewish humanitarian organization dedicated to promoting positive change in the lives of people of all faiths and backgrounds who have been marginalized by poverty and hardship. Ve’ahavta mobilizes volunteers in meaningful, hands-on experiences to fulfill our collective responsibility to care for our neighbour. 

The Ve’ahavta Skills Academy (VSA) is a free nine-week intensive digital program that provides training and support in the areas of essential skills and career exploration. Offered in partnership with George Brown College, VSA is designed to support those facing poverty and instability in their lives due to socio-economic, mental health, and other circumstantial factors. 

The Building Foundations for Women (BFW) program is a free nine-week intensive digital program that provides training and support for women facing socio-economic, immigration, and/or mental health challenges. This highly supportive, personalized program can help clients achieve their goals, including employment, education, and personal development.

Media Contact

Publicist Katie Saunoris, katiesaunoris@gmail.com
Director of People and Culture, Robyn Segall robyn.segall@veahavta.org

 

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