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Governor Kelly Announces Nearly $3M to Improve Digital Literacy in Kansas

May 30, 2024

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TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly announced today that $2.8 million is being invested in 15 organizations through the Digital Opportunities to Connect Kansans (DOCK) program. The DOCK grants will improve the digital skills of Kansans who have not yet been able to fully capitalize on the power of the internet.

“The DOCK program demonstrates our commitment to provide the digital tools Kansans need to drive innovation and compete in the global market,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “These awards are a critical investment to connect all Kansans and support their success in the future economy.”

These investments provide Kansans the digital literacy skills necessary to live, learn, work, and compete equitably in a technology-driven society.

“These targeted grants will help improve the ability for Kansans to participate in the digital age and in doing so, promote economic opportunity for all,” Senate President Ty Masterson said. “Much like reading, digital literacy is increasingly critical, and the DOCK program recognizes that reality.”

“These DOCK program grants will no doubt help to strengthen our Kansas communities, broaden the skillsets of our Kansas workforce, and truly open up a world of opportunity for Kansas citizens by empowering them with the digital tools they need to compete and thrive in today’s job market,” Kansas House Speaker Dan Hawkins said. “I look forward to seeing the positive impact of DOCK for Kansans all across the state.”

The Kansas Office of Broadband Development (KOBD) received applications from numerous entities, including local governments, community organizations, and educational institutions.

“Communities investing in digital skills are foundational to local and statewide economic development,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “The partnerships created and strengthened through DOCK underscore our commitment to ensuring all Kansans have what they need to succeed in the ever-changing digital landscape.”

Examples of the innovative ways awardees will use these funds include:

  • The University of Kansas Center for Digital Inclusion will target 1,000 justice-impacted women in Kansas and provide digital skills crucial for job applications and reintegration into society after incarceration.
  • The Learning Tree Institute at Greenbush, in partnership with Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, will create 200 digital literacy products, establish distribution channels, and reach 15,000 seniors aged 55 and older to improve access to information, reduce social isolation, enhance healthcare access, and boost employability.
  • Kansas State University Research and Extension (KSRE) and the West Plains Extension District will create a Digital Ambassador Program that addresses broadband accessibility for older adults, minority populations, those with disabilities, and unskilled workers.
  • The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas plans a Digital Skills Access Project to provide expanded free digital literacy and digital skills training and certifications for underserved and rural populations in South Central Kansas.

“These awards are going to community partners with deep experience and trusted relationships in the communities they serve,” Jade Piros de Carvalho, Director of the Kansas Office of Broadband Development said. “We are excited to amplify the work happening to further digital opportunities across the state.”

To view the DOCK awardees, or to learn more about the DOCK program, click here.

An additional $1.95 million will be available in a second round of funding later this year to continue promoting access to digital resources and opportunities across the state. KOBD will offer a technical assistance webinar to support successful applications.