I’m super excited to announce that the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation published my case study of their Digital Equity Leadership Lab (DELL) today. The case study began with the following key research question: How might DELL serve as a community-based leadership training model to develop the next wave of digital equity leaders?
Through my interviews with DELL participants, outside experts who led DELL workshop sessions, and Deutsch Foundation staff, I discovered three key findings emerged from my qualitative analysis:
- bringing national policymakers and advocates together with community leaders is powerful and transformative;
- digital inequality is a social not a technological problem; and
- community leaders need access to a shared platform and each other to create change.
Following from these findings the following three recommendations were provided, particularly for other grassroots organizers, philanthropic organizations, policymakers, and other key stakeholders interested in promoting leadership in digital equity and justice initiatives nationwide.
- Capacity building and train-the-trainer models are important for community leadership development, but without access to policymakers and advocates on a national level, community leaders may lack a holistic view and understanding of the problems and community- developed solutions to these problems.
- Community leadership development programs to promote digital equity and justice must provide support systems for community leaders to come together through a shared infrastructure, including both platforms to share ideas and spaces to convene, to continue the work after the training is over.
- Digital inclusion work is vital to help those without access to computers and the internet. However, this work must be rooted in an understanding of how power, privilege, and oppression shape digital inequality, as well as how this knowledge can be used to address systemic barriers to social and racial justice.
Many thanks to my CI Lab colleagues, Malana Krongelb and Jie Jiang for their research support with this study and to amalia deloney, Vice President and Director of Digital Equity at the Deutsch Foundation for inviting me to conduct the study.