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SWHRA receives $400,000 grant to help bridge digital divide for older Tennesseans

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Southwest Human Resource Agency is pleased to announce it has received a $400,000 grant from the West End Home Foundation (WEHF) to help bridge the digital divide for Tennesseans age 60 and older living in the counties of Chester, Decatur, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, and McNairy.
Southwest Human Resource Agency was one of 30 nonprofit and governmental agencies that received grants ranging from $10,000 to $400,000.
“During the pandemic, we saw first-hand the devastating effect isolation had on our senior adult community due to digital illiteracy,” said (Lauralee Smith, Senior Services Director). “When we were Face timing our families, conducting meetings through Zoom and going to church online, they were all alone. Our heart’s desire is to deliver digital hope through our Tech Helps Program. ”
“Agencies and nonprofits seeking grants had to address ways their organizations would reduce social isolation and increase access to essential services for older Tennesseans through digital literacy and inclusion programming,” said Dianne Oliver, executive director, West End Home Foundation. “We look forward to seeing how Southwest HRA will use these funds to address the specific needs of its residents.”
Southwest HRA’s Tech Helps Program – Delivering Digital Hope is partnering with Tech Goes Home of Tennessee to provide computer literacy classes for senior adults ages 60 and older throughout the next year. Each participant will be provided with a Chromebook and fifteen hours of classroom training.
The program will include subsidized assistance to off-set the cost of internet services, hotspots if necessary, technical support, cyber security training and transportation to the training sessions.
Tech Helps is seeking volunteers to teach participant classes in their communities. Volunteer registration will begin August 22, 2022 with training to begin in September.We will begin taking participant applications September 1, 2022 and classes will begin October 1, 2022.
For more information, please contact Angela Gaters, Program Coordinator.
Research shows that, when older adults are connected to technology, they become less isolated and more engaged in their communities. Older adults without internet access suffered more extreme levels of social isolation during the COVID epidemic. Many were unable to access essential services and products, and could not take advantage of telehealth, telecounseling and other telesupport services.
The digital literacy initiative, administered by the West End Home Foundation, is the last phase of the $40 million settlement handed down from Davidson County Chancery Court, Division III, Case No. 11-1548-III. Funds from this case, were designated by the Court to be used to sustain and improve the quality of life for elderly Tennesseans.
The digital literacy grant program was created in response to the connectivity crisis experienced by our country’s older adults. An estimated 21.8 million older adults are offline at home, with only 58% of Americans age 65 and older with broadband internet service. The negative ramifications of this lack of connectivity became clear during the pandemic as older adults became cutoff from the families, friends and communities.
Funding Background
In 2014, the Tennessee Attorney General recovered $40.1 million from the dissolution of two nonprofit nursing homes in Murfreesboro. The funds were under the auspices of the Chancery Court of Davidson County, with Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle presiding. The West End Home Foundation was the recipient of $3.9 million funds for the purpose of designing and administering a statewide grant aimed at bridging the digital divide that was apparent for older adults during the pandemic. The grant, “Reducing Social Isolation and Increasing Access to Essential Services Through Digital Literacy and Inclusion for Older Tennesseans,” was launched Jan. 10, 2022.
Southwest Human Resource Agency – www.swhra.org
The mission of Southwest Human Resource Agency is to meet the needs of families and individuals in our service area by delivering social services and resources. Through effective collaboration with federal, state and community partners, we are dedicated to enhancing quality of life, promoting self-sufficiency, and alleviating the effects of poverty.
About West End Home Foundation
The West End Home Foundation is a private, charitable foundation located in Nashville. The Foundation’s mission is to enhance the lives of older adults through grantmaking, advocacy and community collaboration. The Foundation serves Middle Tennessee including Cheatham, Davidson, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties, providing approximately $2 million annually in grants to nonprofit agencies serving older adults.

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