Last month, the ARPA Tech Kit Selection Committee met to decide on the preliminary funding awards for the ARPA Tech Kit Grant applicants. During their meeting, they selected 12 organizations that will move forward in the process to help the City distribute $2,445,225 of ARPA resources in the form of devices such as Chromebooks, laptops, and iPads, device accessories including software licenses and warranties, and supporting digital skills training and digital navigation services.
Selection Committee Background
The ARPA Tech Kit Selection Committee was made up of 5 individuals who identified as one of our priority populations (Black people, Indigenous people, People of color, Houseless or facing housing insecurity, foster youth, Youth with disabilities, Survivors of domestic violence, People impacted by incarceration, People with disabilities, People with language barriers (immigrants, refugees, ESL), Seniors, LGBTQIA+), had lived experience and/or experience working with front-line community members who are digitally excluded.
These five community leaders reviewed all 33 applications utilizing evaluation criteria and a scoring rubric. The selection committee scored each application and then came together to review each individual application, score, and make funding decisions. They discussed each application and weighed in on the criteria and rubric itself. At the conclusion of the meeting, the committee finalized funding decisions for the ARPA tech kit projects.
The application process was competitive and the committee was focused on including a cross-representation of our priority populations. The criteria that each applicant was graded on revolved around combinations of various organizational attributes included below:
- Organizational size—prioritizing smaller organizations (staff and operating budgets)
- Representative staffing—prioritizing organizations led by and/or serving people who are members of one or more of the communities listed below.
- Houseless or facing housing insecurity, people impacted by incarceration, or people who speak English as a secondary language)
- Community reach—It was important to prioritize organizations who are already well connected in their target communities, as it would allow for quicker turn around once they receive the grant awards.
- Project Beneficiaries—What is the applicants understanding of the target communities and their needs?
- Project Plan—Does the proposed project plan seem reasonably effective and does the applicant propose compelling project outcomes?
- Capacity Building—Is the project likely to support organizational capacity during and/or beyond the life of the ARPA resources?
- African Family Holistic Health Organization
- Slavic Community Center of NW
- Accent Network
- Ethiopian and Eritrean Cultural and Resource Center
- The Insight Alliance
- Center for African Health and Education
- LGBTQ Community Center Fund
- Umoya Relief Foundation
- Portland Refugee Support Group
- Journeys Foundation
- Living Islands
The extra time taken to design and launch the funding initiative was in direct response to the lessons learned from community partners that participated in the CARES Tech Kit project, as well as the needs and interests of community members as identified through a robust community engagement process led to design the ARPA Digital Divide Response funding initiatives.
For example, instead of pre-determining device type, the ARPA Digital Divide Response Project allowed community partners to select a device that best fits a user's needs from a diverse list of options. This extensive community engagement process has helped build out the best approach in order to better serve our diverse and vulnerable communities, while also identifying the communities most in need.
Priority Community Members
- Adults living with a disability
- People with language barriers
- Black African youth
- Refugees from Ukraine, Slavic, Black, Ethiopian, and Eritrea families
- Seniors impacted by houselessness
- BIPOC LGBTQ
- Domestic abuse survivors
- Housing insecure residents
- Somali and Kenyan immigrant and refugee
- Pacific Islander community, with a central focus on Micronesian communities
- Youth impacted by gun violence and incarceration
- And combinations of the above
- The City's procurement team will set up applicants as vendors. Applications will also go through a risk assessment. Simultaneously, we are engaging our device vendors to order the devices and accessories.