NPT Receives Grant to Help Bridge Digital Divide for Older Tennesseans

Aging and Data Literacy

Nashville Public Television is pleased to announce it has received a $107,000 grant from the West End Home Foundation to help bridge the digital divide for Middle Tennesseans aged 60 and older. NPT is one of 30 nonprofit and governmental agencies to receive a grant ranging from $10,000 to $400,000.

NPT will use the funds to produce a 30-minute documentary with a focus on digital literacy topics for older adults, including cybersecurity. In addition, NPT will produce 15 short videos conveying practical how-to tips about computer use, the internet and other issues. The station plans to host 12 virtual or in-person community engagement events, conduct two Facebook Live screenings, and create other resources related to the project.

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 aged 65 and older have access to 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.

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. For information on these funds, click here.

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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