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ARPA Awards for Southeastern Members 2021 - 2022: Digital Navigators FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

About Digital Navigators (General) Expectations Application Process Resources Compensation & Credit About Digital Equity
About Digital Navigators

This definition comes from National Digital Inclusion Alliance, our partner agency: Digital Navigators are individuals who address the whole digital inclusion process — home connectivity, devices, and digital skills — with community members through repeated interactions.

Navigators can be volunteers or cross-trained staff who already work in social service agencies, libraries, health, and more who offer remote and socially distant in-person guidance. Often at trusted community-based organizations, Digital Navigators are familiar with resources that relate to digital equity, and they help residents learn to use critical online services that provide guidance with food support, rent, education, employment, childcare, government benefits and more. They recommend resources and check back with the client.

The model begins with asset mapping, continues with the development of processes customized to each site, and results in local communities with stronger digital inclusion resources. A trained Digital Navigator will be able to assess a community member’s need, and competently guide them towards resources that are suitable both for their skill level and lifestyle. Taking into account social distancing, a Digital Navigator can reliably point a community member to online resources suitable to their needs such as online classes or self-guided tutorials.

The Digital Navigator model is a replicable framework for organizations already providing digital inclusion services or those entering the digital inclusion space to ensure that their constituents can connect with them online. NDIA is available for consulting about adapting the model to your community’s needs, existing social services, and to provide Digital Navigator Training.

No! The soft skills (listed below) that are characteristics of a good Digital Navigator are the most important. During the four-day training in February, NDIA will teach us about specific tools and software that will help participants succeed in this role. We will also provide you with a resource list to obtain software and hardware and with local connections to tech support.

In order for a participant to be successful as a Digital Navigator, participants must have these six critical skills and aptitudes.

  • The ability to embrace the challenge of learning and teaching basic technological concepts related to internet services, computer and device characteristics, and common online services and applications.
  • Excellent self-organization, language capacity, and cultural competency.
  • Excellent telephone and online communication skills, including the ability to establish trust with clients of varied educational and cultural backgrounds.
  • The ability to demonstrate a positive attitude, excellent interpersonal skills, cultural sensitivity, and a sense of humor in working with diverse customers, coworkers, and the community.
  • The ability to creatively solve problems, and negotiate and handle stressful situations in a positive manner.
  • The ability to provide excellent customer service, establish appropriate boundaries with clients, and demonstrate innovation and flexibility

Expectations

This program runs from February 2022 - June 2022. In these 5 months, there is a time commitment for participants during the training phase, the planning phase, and the implementation phase.
Digital Navigators are expected to attend all four (4) 90-minute training sessions in February.
Digital Navigators are expected to attend bi-weekly check-in calls from February 14-June 15. These calls will be no more than one hour.
From February 14-March 28 Digital Navigators will need to spend time setting up their program, becoming familiar with the local resource list, and developing an outreach program to the community. (We will provide you with marketing materials.)
From March 28-June 15 Digital Navigators will meet with at least five (5) individual clients, and will meet with each of these clients twice.
This grant program formally ends on June 30, 2022. Our goal is to get Digital Navigators equipped to keep the program running at their institutions in the future.

After attending the four training sessions Digital Navigators will be equipped with new skills and resources and qualified to perform the duties of a Digital Navigator. They will be required to:

  • learn the skills to perform the duties of a Digital Navigator
  • understand and use the resources with the individuals they serve
  • connect with community-based organizations to promote digital navigation services
  • utilize marketing materials to engage communities
  • measure their work for evaluation purposes
  • empower community members

We understand that life and work happen! If you have an extenuating circumstance and can let us know far enough in advance, we may be able to accommodate your situation. If you miss your scheduled check-in call, you will be welcome to attend a different one. If your absence becomes excessive or hinders your ability to successfully complete the program, we do reserve the right to withhold the investment incentive. Letting system staff know about a potential absence as soon as possible will help everyone stay on track.

Yes. We welcome people of all abilities to this program. If you require an accommodation, such as ASL interpreters, captioning, audio description, or the like, please contact us with that request. Requesting accommodations as early as possible is critical so we can ensure availability.

Application Process

Training as a Digital Navigator will take an investment of staff time and resources. Applicants who are chosen to be Digital Navigators will receive a contract so we can reimburse the organization for that investment and provide an incentive to keep the work going. An authorized representative from the organization (the director) needs to sign that contract.

The program is limited to 100 people. A committee composed of staff from Southeastern NY Library Resources Council, Mid-Hudson Library System, and Ramapo Catskill Library System will review the applications to choose individuals who are suited to the role and who will be likely to make a positive impact on their community.

It is possible that we will receive more than one application from the same organization. If this happens, then we will be in contact with you to discuss the value of training multiple people from your library or organization. If there are available seats in the program and there is a compelling reason to accept more than one person, then we will allow them to participate.

The organization must be a registered not-for-profit serving a community in one of the eight (8) counties in Southeastern’s geographic service area, which includes the following counties: Columbia, Greene, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Putnam, and Rockland. On the application form you should describe the segment of the community that will be served by you when you are training as a Digital Navigator (i.e. marginalized communities, k-12 students, college students, aging populations, etc).

The purpose of this project is to serve library workers and staff at community based organizations serving in communities in Southeastern’s geographic service area: Columbia, Greene, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Putnam, or Rockland. If we do not reach our goal of 100 participants from these 8 countries, then we will consider accepting participants from other regions of New York State.

Resources

We will be working with NDIA to provide Digital Navigators with a toolkit that will include everything they need to complete the work. This list of local resources will have information about Internet service providers, local refurbishers, and digital literacy information. Training addresses digital literacy by including breakouts for participants to practice reference interviews with each other. Trainees also receive a Digital Inclusion Resource document, which contains several links and descriptions to existing free digital literacy resources.

Yes! The grant will fund marketing materials for Digital Navigators to use to promote the service at their library or organization. Materials will include graphical content for websites and social media posts and a variety of printed materials, which could be in the form of bookmarks, flyers, banners, or door hangers. Digital Navigators will receive guidance on how to deploy social media posts; blurb-style copy for use on library website, in newsletters, and other direct outreach to communities; and a customizable version of a press release along with guidance on distribution/use.

After we complete the first week of training, Digital Navigators will meet with NDIA and system staff every other week to address needs that come up during program implementation. The calls will rotate bi-weekly between Mid-Hudson Library System and Ramapo Catskill Library system area organizations. If you miss the call for your region, you are welcome to attend the call for the other region. Program participants are expected to be at these calls, and expect to book one hour of time to participate.

Compensation & Credit

Organizations that fulfill the obligations of the program, which means successfully serving at least five (5) clients in their community with a minimum of two (2) interactions per client, will be compensated for their time. The grant will fund the payment of $900 to each library that successfully met these expectations.

Yes. If each person fulfills the obligations of the program, the library organization will receive compensation for each person that completes the program.

Yes, you will get credit hours for the time you are face-to-face with staff, which include the training calls and check-in calls.

Digital Equity

Take a look at The NYS Digital Equity Portal which is an interactive, online data and mapping tool for New York State communities seeking to advance digital equity. Recognizing that access to broadband in and of itself is a limited measure of the digital divide, the NYS Digital Equity Portal allows users to generate snapshots of connectivity, device access, population/demographics, programming, and other digital equity resources from selected geographies across the state.

Digital Navigators of the Hudson Valley is one of several projects that are part of an ARPA subaward package. Take a look at this page to see the full range of initiatives being implemented using ARPA funds.

No, it is a different series of programs, although both are being given by NDIA. The NYS Library is offering a two-part webinar program on the Digital Navigator model; they will give an overview of the impact, how the model works, and general steps for getting started. Our program, Digital Navigators of the Hudson Valley, includes four training sessions with NDIA for participants to learn the specifics of how to implement the Digital Navigator model at their organization. This is extensive training, with follow-up calls, designed for participants to learn what they need to know to actively serve as Digital Navigators for their community.
The New York State Library is dedicated to digital equity and has a listing Digital Equity Resources

Members of Mid-Hudson Library System should contact Casey Conlin or Kerstin Cuger
Members of Ramapo Catskill Library System should contact Jen Park or Grace Riario.
All others should contact Carolyn Bennett Glauda at Southeastern NY Library Resources Council.

Digital Navigators of the Hudson Valley is supported with federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds allocated to the New York State Library by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065
www.senylrc.org