Our Biggest Learnings While Accelerating Digital Equality

Poesy Chen

By Poesy Chen, Innovation Director

In the wake of COVID-19 digital inclusion became even more critical, according to the Aspen Institute. The recent Accelerating Impact: An International Digital Equity Showcase spotlighted the urgency of that inclusion.

After four months of participation in the inaugural Digital Equity Accelerator, hosted by Aspen Digital and HP, I was honored to represent on behalf of Mobile Pathways. I joined six other nonprofits who leverage digital innovation to empower historically marginalized communities.

Following months of intense collaboration, we learned how to efficiently measure impact, while making our programs more accessible, human, adaptive, and diverse. Ultimately, through a team of coaches provided by HP and the Aspen Institute, we created a group of peers and advisors who will continue to learn from each other as we progress in our work.

Accelerating Digital Equity Cohorts

As an accelerator newbie, here are three key takeaways:

✨ The perfect pitch isn’t JUST about your presentation. It also goes hand-in-hand with your marketing and advertising efforts. Your brand defines you and you define your brand. Story-telling begins and ends with a great brand telling an awesome story.

👭 Connecting with others takes time. At first, I struggled to figure out how to connect to people with varying missions in a short amount of time. Given my consulting background, I figured I understood what this process would entail. Different people present different perspectives, different challenges, different approaches, and different results. Connections that matter take time to form, don’t expect in the first few weeks.

🟰 Equality is not just tied to race or gender. There are also physical and learning disabilities to consider when talking about digital equity (for example, people who are deaf and need an interpreter, those who have low vision, no vision, are color blind, or even assistive devices for people living with quadriplegia, etc.). These are just a few of the many ways that physical or medical limitations can prevent people from equally participating in our digital universe.

After four months of intense preparation, I got to pitch live 😬. 

After gracious introductions by Vivian Schiller (CEO of Aspen Digital) and Marla Blow (President of the Skoll Foundation), here’s the epic finale 👉:

Mobile Pathways Djamal Diouf

🫶 Shout outs to my cohorts! 🫶

- Carl Settles, Founder & Executive Director, e4 Youth
- C.C. Joseph, Co-Founder, Fourth Wave Foundation
- Jordan Carr, Director of Virtual Programs, Oasis Institute
- Nezha Larhrissi, Co-Founder & President, eSTEM Morocco
- Thanae Bennani, Executive Director, Douar Tech
- Vineetha Venugopal, Consultant, Digital Empowerment Foundation