Earlier this month we participated in Ontario’s Digital Inclusion Summit where we heard the Honourable Eleanor McMahon, President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for Digital Government ask her audience to consider an important question. She asked us to ponder, “who is being served by technology? How is it being designed? And what problems are we solving for?”
Initially, the goal of this pilot was to build and test an accessible, scalable model for delivering digital literacy programming across Ontario, to ensure that all youth gain access to this critical 21st-Century skill. This pilot was particularly focused on engaging youth aged 12-15 from backgrounds currently underrepresented in STEM, including girls. These are young people who, according to a recent report from Actua, have an incredible appetite to learn digital skills but have suffered from a lack of access to programming.
In order to do this, we convened a broad range of partners, including experts in digital literacy programming, youth engagement, community development, education policy, and evaluation to co-create a model. To test this model, our plan was to work with digital literacy programming partners to deliver the program through established community organizations that prioritize youth development such as local Boys and Girls Clubs, public libraries, and YMCAs. Throughout the program, we would evaluate the model to better understand what works and what doesn’t, in order to generate useful policy recommendations.