COMMENTARY: Grants provide technology access for the underserved

Councilmember Bruce Harrell

By Bruce Harrell
For Northwest Asian Weekly

As the [City of Seattle’s Energy, Technology, and Civil Rights Committee] chair, I am pleased to announce that $320,000 in grants have been given by the City’s Technology Matching Fund (TMF).

(Established in 1997, the Bill Wright Technology Matching Fund supports projects that reach technologically underserved communities, thereby increasing ‘digital inclusion.’ The City’s goals are to increase technology literacy, provide residents with access to computers, the Internet, and other information technologies, and increase residents’ use of technology for community problem solving, civic engagement and community building.)

Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell with those who are benefitting from the grants given to the City’s Technology Matching Fund (Photo provided by Bruce Harrell)

The City Council understands the importance of digital inclusion and since my arrival to the Council, we have doubled TMF funds. This legislation is critical because I know it has a positive effect on the lives of people in the community.

Just look at the picture — this is only a snapshot of the people assisted by TMF!
The TMF enables services for thousands of people citywide.

Projects include a historic walking tour of Rainier Beach with online content, where participants will share their personal stories via touchstone devices to build a collective discussion; creation of a Youth Leadership Council, where 10 Vietnamese youth will use technology and digital media to build leadership skills and engage their community through community service; and educating Chinatown community members on using social media to enhance economic development and increase collaboration.

Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell with those who are benefitting from the grants given to the City’s Technology Matching Fund (Photo provided by Bruce Harrell)

TMF funding helps build critical employment skills, train English as Second Language residents, and encourage civic engagement and community building through the use of technology.

Among the 23 community organizations receiving funds, a few are:

  • Seattle Chinatown International District
  • Preservation and Development
  • Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
  • Casa Latina
  • Coalition for Refugees from Burma
  • Ethiopian Community Mutual Association
  • Jack Straw Foundation
  • Salaam Urban Village Association

I am extremely proud of the TMF program and how it demonstrates the city’s commitment to supporting youth and families, public engagement, and race and social justice. It is a win-win for everybody. (end)

For more information, visit

Bruce Harrell is a member of the Seattle City Council. He is currently chair of the Energy, Technology, and Civil Rights Committee and Vice Chair of Public Utilities & Neighborhoods, among other things.

He can be reached at

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