£1.5 million awarded to 15 new projects aiming to close the digital divide

15 exciting new projects have been funded to tackle the digital skills gap as part of a new initiative, run by Good Things Foundation, with support from J.P. Morgan.

15 exciting new projects have been funded to tackle the digital skills gap as part of a new initiative, run by Good Things Foundation, with support from J.P. Morgan.

Power Up aims to drive economic and social inclusion through improved digital skills, with projects located in four areas of the UK; Bournemouth, East London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It was developed based on extensive research conducted by Good Things Foundation, which identified needs, priorities and gaps in provision.

The Initiative is the first of its kind to embed digital into existing support for employability, financial inclusion and small businesses. It will build on and strengthen existing provision, contribute to local systems change and develop strong local partnerships, leaving a sustainable legacy of digital skills support.

Projects that have been funded through the Power Up Initiative include: Bourne Digital, a consortium of organisations in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, led by Ansbury Guidance, which will embed digital within existing support, through existing provision including youth and housing services.

Poplar Harca Housing Association in East London, who will be working with local residents in low paid and insecure work, and unemployed people – particularly those with limited English language skills, using digital champion volunteers to support them.

Glasgow Life, who will be providing support to small businesses across the city, mapping digital resources, and creating a sustainable model that will connect businesses to the digital skills they need to succeed.

Projects were selected after a rigorous application and selection process, and two additional projects were funded due to a high number of quality bids, with funding increasing from £1.3 to £1.5 million.

Despite widespread internet access, there is a deep divide between those who have the digital skills and confidence to benefit fully and those who do not. The latest Ofcom release shows a 17% gap in internet use between adults in high and low socio-economic groups. Of people with zero digital skills, 46% earn less than £17,499 a year. People with basic digital skills can expect a lifetime increase of their average earnings of 2.8%. Adoption and use of digital can be transformative, particularly for financial health and employability for individuals, as well as for small businesses who will struggle to develop without relevant skills. These projects, funded by Power Up, aim to help address some of these issues.

Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation said:”We’re delighted to be funding these exciting projects, who are all using digital technology in different ways to close the digital divide, as well as develop their own services, meaning we will be seeing the knock on impacts of these projects for years to come.

“We believe everyone should have the skills, confidence and access to be able to take advantage of technology – and we’re aiming for 100% digital inclusion in the UK. We’re delighted to be working with J.P. Morgan on this project, which will go some way to achieving that.”

Dan Zinkin, Managing Director, Global Technology for Digital Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan, says:

“At J.P. Morgan, we are committed to equipping people in our communities with the digital skills to find high quality employment or grow their businesses. The 2019 Power Up grantees have put forward very exciting approaches to embed digital skills into their existing support and training programs. We are confident that these organisations and programmes can help bridge the digital divide in the UK. Through grant funding and capacity building, the Power Up grantees can create a lasting impact among vulnerable communities in East London, Bournemouth, Glasgow and Edinburgh.”

Delivery for all projects will begin in November 2019, and run until April 2021. Good Things Foundation will support the Power Up grantees throughout the programme, and offer capacity building support to ensure a sustainable legacy for the future through a relationship funding approach.