After its most prodigious grant application period to date, national tech grantor PowerOn is awarding 32 LGBTQ+ organizations with technology through the program’s 2022 Mobile Mini Grant. These laptops, tablets, and cell phones will enable the recipients to serve marginalized LGBTQ+ community members, providing mental health care, emergency food services, and crucial social support, among many other life-saving services. This grant is just the first that PowerOn will offer in 2022.
LGBT Tech, PowerOn’s parent organization, launched the Mobile Mini Grant last year with backing from T-Mobile in response to the outcry for additional resources from LGBTQ+ organizations to serve their clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year T-Mobile has expanded their support, greatly increasing PowerOn’s ability to accept more organizations in need. Compared to the previous grant cycle, nearly three-times as many organizations applied for the Mobile Mini Grant, underscoring the growing need for technology within anchor institutions like LGBTQ+ community centers for operations and community support.
“We were thrilled by the sheer number of applications we received this year. We feel that it definitely reflects the need for this technology by these crucial community institutions,” said Ellie Bessette, Director of Programs for LGBT Tech.
PowerOn is granting 141 devices to this year’s grantees. Through the Mobile Mini Grant and other grants, PowerOn has partnered with 75 LGBTQ+ organizations across the United States since the program’s inception in 2015.
“T-Mobile understands how important it is for LGBTQ+ youth to have access to life-affirming services and means to connect with their communities,” said Clint Odom, VP of strategic alliances and external affairs at T-Mobile. “By partnering with organizations like LGBT Tech, we’re working to put important connectivity tools and technology into the hands of those that need it most.”
PowerOn has been committed to empowering the LGBTQ+ community by removing barriers to connectivity since 2015. The program recognizes the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to access to technology and connectivity as well as the specific obstacles that the community often faces in gaining this access. Many LGBTQ+ people depend heavily on the internet for access to reliable information, resources, and safe spaces. LGBTQ+ people also face high rates of economic instability and social/familial isolation, which often leads to hardships such as homelessness. To date, PowerOn has distributed nearly 1,000 devices to the community, giving over 55,000 people access who otherwise wouldn’t have it.
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for technology to participate in almost all aspects of life, whether it be education, work, or social life, is undeniable. This is especially true for organizations like PowerOn’s partner grantee centers, who provide crucial services and resources to support the LGBTQ+ community across the country. The quick need to adapt to life within the pandemic has brought a rush of technological innovations, such as an expansion in telehealth services and online community spaces, all of which are likely here to stay. While the pandemic has been universally devastating, these advancements have opened new doors of opportunity which transcend geographical restrictions– a trans person in a rural area may now have access to trans-affirming healthcare from a provider hundreds of miles away via telehealth, or an LGBTQ+ community center may be able to expand services to those who do not live locally.
“Even before the pandemic, the lack of connectivity, access to resources, and digital inequality has always been a reality for many within the LGBTQ+ community but the pandemic put a spotlight on just how important that connectivity is,” said Chris Wood, Executive Director and Co-Founder of LGBT Tech, “but even as pandemic restrictions begin to lift, we must continue to meet our community members where they are and ensure that any LGBTQ+ community or individual that wants access has it. Access to the Internet is crucial to an individual’s success much like other basic needs; the pandemic has proven that to all of us and LGBT Tech will be working to continue to raise awareness, provide technology grants and answer that call.”
As the PowerOn program expands its network, it empowers the LGBTQ+ community through its partner grantee centers by providing access to connectivity.
The following organizations are the recipients of the 2022 Mobile Mini Grant, supported by T-Mobile: