Initiative’s last act funds digital navigator

Low-income students were helped with remote learning

PORT TOWNSEND — The Connected Students Initiative, in its last act before closing, has donated $35,000 to Jefferson County Library District to help fund its digital equity navigator position.

Jamie Pena is now a local community resource available to assist in helping understand the various subsidies for internet connectivity, applications for low-income access, and general technology usage and education.

“I love the work and really enjoy working with the community and seeing the difference this assistance can make for students and adults who need some help getting across the technical divide these days,” Pena said.

The Connected Students Initiative (CSI) was begun at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to help supply internet connectivity for low-income students in Jefferson County through a grant from the Jefferson Community Foundation’s COVID relief funds.

During the next 14 months, CSI worked with more than 160 local families across four school districts to provide cable, hotspot and satellite connections for students who needed to conduct their studies from home.

“The role was one-third technology, one-third administrator and one-third outreach coordinator,” said CSI project leader Ben Bauermeister, who added that, because the group was “small and nimble,” it was able to address the needs of the community quickly.

During the end of 2020 and into early 2021, the federal government was ready to offer assistance in the form of reimbursements to communities that already were helping local students.

Bauermeister applied for federal reimbursement for money spent on hardware and establishing cellular accounts.

By the 2022 school year, many new programs were available for schools to help connect low-income students and CSI was no longer needed.

So the Connected Student Initiative found another place for its remaining funds through discussions with county commissioners, the Jefferson Broadband Action Team (JBAT) and Tamara Meredith at the Jefferson County Library.

“We had seen the need in the community for assistance in better understanding the role of technology in our lives,” Meredith said.

“We just didn’t know how we could afford a new position, and yet the match to the work that CSI had been doing was a clear connection.”

With additional support and funding from Jefferson County and the Department of Commerce/ConnectWA Coalition, a two-year digital equity navigator position was opened and filled at the library.

The Connected Students Initiative is now closing its doors.

CSI was a program of StrongerTowns, a Jefferson County nonprofit incubator organization that also includes support for The Benji Project, Skillmation Mentoring, The Jefferson County Jobs and Trades Fair, The Production Alliance, YEA! Music, and most recently The Community Build program.

More in News

Pat Woolman
Project Lifesaver client found after search

Project Lifesaver equipment helped deputies find a man who… Continue reading

Large response seen to Center Road fire

No one was hurt during a fire that burned down… Continue reading

Burn planned on Protection Island

A prescribed burn is planned on Protection Island National Wildlife… Continue reading

Myron Teterud, a longtime Sequim schools and community supporter, gives the crowd a salute after being honored as “Fan of the Century” at Sequim High School’s centennial celebration in January 2011. Sequim School Board directors agreed to name the SHS athletic field in honor of Teterud, along with naming the stadium stáʔčəŋ, a S’Klallam word meaning “wolf." (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group file)
Names OK’d for Sequim stadium, field

Tribe, Teterud honored at athletic facility

Ammonia leak reported at paper mill

An ammonia leak from a tank at McKinley Paper… Continue reading

Matthew Nash/ Olympic Peninsula News Grup

The Sequim Police Department continues to investigate an early morning burglary on Friday at Coastal Farm Ranch.
Sequim business burglarized, police investigating

Coastal Farm & Ranch was burglarized early Friday morning. How… Continue reading

Abortion ruling leaves access unaffected in state

Peninsula healthcare providers respond

OMC vows full ER staff on July 1

PESI to dissolve as new group takes over

Demonstrators protest about abortion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

States can ban abortion

Most Read