MakeIT Haverhill, Haverhill Public Schools Score at Digital Equity Challenge

From the 2022 Digital Equity Challenge. Haverhill iHub Associate Director Stephanie Guyotte, second from right, and EforAll’s Sophan Smith, right, present a first-place check to MakeIT Haverhill’s Tim Haynes. (Courtesy photograph.)

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MakeIT Haverhill walked away with the top prize and Haverhill schools won the Fan Favorite Award at the Digital Equity Challenge April 27.

The inaugural event, which took place at UMass Lowell’s Innovation Hub in Haverhill, gave entrepreneurs and nonprofits a chance to pitch their ideas and projects for increasing digital access and literacy. The Challenge was open to Essex County’s 34 cities and towns and offered a total of $10,000 in prize money.

MakeIT Haverhill collected $5,000 for its Affordable Internet Access Program. Volunteer Tim Haynes, who leads the organization’s digital literacy and equity programs, said the program wishes to hire a “digital ambassador” to educate community members and create a public WiFi hotspot outside its Washington Street headquarters.

“It was great to be involved with the event and spread the word about the work we’re doing,” said Haynes, an industrial technology advisor who began lending his expertise to MakeIT Haverhill last year. “There isn’t a lot required to create big results, and that’s really meaningful.”

Haverhill Public Schools won the $1,000 Fan Favorite award for its program to promote healthy social media use among students. Andover-based Aaron’s Presents, a nonprofit focused on mentoring, received a second-place prize of $3,000 for its initiative to teach Microsoft Excel to teens, while the third-place prize of $1,000 went to the city of Lynn for its intergenerational program to teach technology skills to seniors.

UMass Lowell Innovation Hub Haverhill and Essex County Community Foundation hosted the Digital Equity Challenge.

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