With a rapidly growing number of workplace tasks expected to go digital in the next decade, developing digital skills is key to creating economic opportunities and reducing vulnerability to unemployment.
With grant funding from the Hispanic Federation and Comcast NBCUniversal, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan plans to launch new programming designed to empower local Latino communities with the digital skills they need to advance in the workforce.
The Grand Rapids-based nonprofit was one of just 20 Latino-led organizations in the country to receive the $25,000 grant.
The grant stems from the Hispanic Federation and Comcast’s Latino Digital Equity Centers program, a partnership that is part of Comcast’s Project UP digital equity initiative.
The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan plans to use the award to bring in an innovative Digital Accelerator training program as well as launch a Digital Career Center for community members.
“As the world keeps changing towards a more digital economy, it is crucial that our Latino community has the support to keep up with the changes. We are grateful for this partnership with Comcast that directly addresses the digital divide,” Evelyn Esparza, executive director of the Hispanic Center, said in a statement.
The Latino Digital Equity Centers program selected grant recipients based on evidence of past and current workforce development efforts and demonstrated interest in expanding those efforts. The Hispanic Center serves more than 10,000 individuals in Grand Rapids’ Latino neighborhoods annually, and its workforce development program focuses on addressing unemployment and offering career coaching and skills training.
According to a 2020 National Skills Coalition study, Latino workers make up 14 percent of the U.S. workforce but disproportionately represent 35 percent of workers with no digital skills. Meanwhile, 20 percent of Latino workers have limited digital skills, according to the study.
Grant program organizers say this underscores the need to bolster digital literacy among Latino residents who would be at greater risk of unemployment or underemployment.
The Hispanic Center hopes the Digital Career Center will help to close that gap by offering digital skills training and networking opportunities to 100 community members.