The CI Lab is excited to announce that the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation published our new case study of the Digital Equity Leadership Lab (DELL) today. The case study began last year 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 our interviews with DELL participants, outside experts who led DELL workshop sessions, and Deutsch Foundation staff, we 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.
The report was written by CI Lab Director Dr. Colin Rhinesmith with research support from Malana Krongelb and Jie Jiang. Many thanks to amalia deloney, Vice President and Director of Digital Equity at the Deutsch Foundation for inviting us to conduct the study.