46 LGBTQ+ centers. 275 devices. $47,000 of technology.
PowerOn made a difference in 2020 for as many as 55,000 LGBTQ+ individuals, adapting to COVID challenges, working to close the digital divide, and expanding the program’s reach to more locations and people in need of connection.
The 2020 PowerOn Impact Report shares the stories of those who were strengthened by access to technology through education, health care, and support from family and friends.
Purpose of the PowerOn Impact Report
The Annual PowerOn Impact Report assesses and determines the impact of the PowerOn program on the LGBTQ+ communities through our partner centers (grantees) and their clients over the previous calendar year. By collecting, evaluating, and understanding the information collected, LGBT Tech can not only evaluate the program’s impact for the previous year but over a multi-year period to better understand trends or challenges, all of which help LGBT Tech determine a plan for the upcoming grant cycles and make any adjustments to increase the effectiveness of the program’s offerings. Most importantly, it allows the program to continue to meet the LGBTQ+ community where they are when it comes to digital connectivity. The report is designed to provide a snapshot of our work over the past year, update you on news, progress, challenges and successes, as well as to increase overall support for, and awareness of, the program.
The Year Overall
2020 was a challenging year with many changes and unexpected developments. The needs of the LGBTQ+ community and LGBTQ+-serving organizations changed frequently and suddenly over the course of the year and PowerOn stepped up to meet these needs and adapt to the changes. Most notably, COVID shed light on the importance of connectivity for all, and the struggles of those who are unable to afford a connection or do not have it available to them because of their location. While lack of connectivity has long been, and continues to be, a very real challenge for the LGBTQ+ community, the general public finally understands not being connected and the compounding issues associated with disconnection. Internet and an internet-accessible device are essential to our way of life and those without these resources are at a notable disadvantage in many aspects of life. This is why the PowerOn Program works to make technology, connectivity, and resources accessible to all LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations.
Key Takeaways, Successes, and Challenges
Most notable in 2020 were the large numbers of individuals reached by the distribution of substantial technology grants. While many grantees had to postpone receiving their grants
until their physical space reopened, they had a new need for staff technology and resources to continue services remotely. PowerOn provided affordable HIPAA-compliant Zoom licenses to 40 center staff and interns to enable private and secure continuation of counseling and social services online. Over $47,000 worth of hardware was distributed to partner centers in 46 locations. More than 8,000 individuals utilized PowerOn technology in 2020 with thousands more able to connect to center services through online platforms. The demographics of our grantees proved to be diverse, spanning all ages and many races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. The need for technology is certainly not confined to one demographic group. COVID presented a unique challenge and drove an increased need for technology and PowerOn was able to adapt to meet this need in addition to fulfilling the program’s usual grant framework.
Conclusion and Looking Ahead to Next Year
PowerOn is an impactful program that provides needed services that are not available elsewhere or through other programs. The target audience is being reached on a large scale, but the need remains urgent and PowerOn’s role in meeting this need is more crucial than ever. PowerOn will continue to grant technology, advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community on issues of access and representation, and work to bring increased opportunities for connection to the LGBTQ+ communities across the U.S. By continuing to offer annual grants and adding additional grant cycles where needed and where possible, PowerOn will remain an asset to the LGBTQ+ community and fill a gap in services that is severely needed.