Goodwill Agencies Partner to Bridge the Digital Divide in Washington State


(Tacoma, WA) – The five goodwill agencies serving Washington residents have received a one-year, $3.68 million grant extension from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Broadband Office for bring digital literacy, access and training services to all 39 counties in the state after a successful six-month pilot program.

The digital divide—lack of access to tech devices, the internet, and digital skills—in Washington is most pronounced among low-income and otherwise marginalized communities that are often culturally diverse and multilingual. For people in these communities, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified and intensified existing inequalities, widening this divide even further. In 2019, the Washington State Legislature recognized that digital access is essential for Washington residents. For this reason, Goodwill was chosen, along with the Community Health Network of Washington, the Equity in Education Coalition and the Seattle Housing Authority, to provide digital navigation services while administering their broader services that meet lifesaving needs. For example, Goodwill provides access to a variety of social services as well as its core vocational education, career preparation and job placement offerings.

The Digital Navigation Services program, Goodwill Connect, reaches those most at risk of digital exclusion. These include people in rural areas, low-income neighborhoods, communities of color (including tribal communities), as well as the elderly and people with disabilities. Translation services in a wide range of languages ​​are offered through Language Link to help people whose primary language is not English.

By June 2023, the program will provide 3,000 qualified individuals with Chromebooks with 3 months of built-in internet connectivity. To qualify for a Chromebook, an individual or family must be 135% or more below the federal poverty level. Washington residents interested in Chromebooks should call the hotline to determine eligibility, and each region will have a strategy to ensure those lacking technology, device, or internet skills are prioritized.

“Together with all of the other regional goodwill organizations in Washington, we are excited to provide statewide digital navigation services,” said Eu-wanda Eagans, senior vice president of workforce development. works for the goodwill of the Olympic and rainy region. “We are building a scalable collaborative platform that can provide essential digital resources, training and skill building for the foreseeable future.”

In the six-month pilot starting in January 2022, Goodwill connection has been integrated into the program portfolio of each regional Goodwill in Washington State. Digital Navigators are trained to provide residents with on-demand technology support services, ranging from how to turn on a computer and use a mouse, to how to set up a cloud account and navigate the Internet. Browsers also direct our helpline callers to a variety of additional resources, such as securing affordable internet connectivity, finding information online to help them find jobs, housing, social service delivery and access to fundamental digital skills and job training opportunities through Goodwill and other providers.

The success of the six-month pilot project of Goodwill connection saw the following:

  • Washingtonians in 35 of 39 counties call the hotline and access digital navigation services;
  • 2,907 hotline callers access support to register for digital skills assistance and connect to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP);
  • 1,564 people receive free internet-enabled Chromebook laptops.

The website and the digital resources hotline at 844-GWCONNECT (844-492-6663) are the primary methods for contacting a digital browser and inquiring about the program. Hotline hours vary by region, with digital browsers typically available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The website offers a zip code search function, directing people to the phone number to reach a digital browser in their area, and includes a chat function available during business hours to speak directly to a browser. The site also offers a list of helpful resources needed to thrive in all aspects of life. Each Goodwill offers outreach and in-person events to connect with community members as well.

Over the past five years, regional Goodwill organizations in Washington have provided more than 25,000 people with the basic to advanced digital skills needed to find, retain and improve employability. This pilot brings that experience to scale in an innovative collaboration of the state’s five Goodwill organizations.

Goodwill Industries International (GII) is a network of 160 self-sustaining community organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 13 other countries. For the past three years, Goodwill has been ranked among the top five brands that have most inspired consumers thanks to its mission in the World Value Index, commissioned by creative agency enso. The goodwill has been on Forbes’ list of the 20 Most Inspiring Companies for three consecutive years, the only non-profit organization on this list. Last year, local goodwill organizations collectively placed more than 288,000 people in the labor market in the United States and Canada. In addition, more than 31 million people have used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill’s education, training, mentoring and e-learning services to build their skills, and more than two million people received in-person services.

For more information or to find a Goodwill store near you, visit or call (800) GOOD WILL. Follow Goodwill Industries International on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: GoodwillIntl.


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