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Celebrating community leaders bridging the digital divide

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Local leaders know their communities best, and this Black History Month we’re celebrating organizations across the country that help people gain new skills, find jobs and grow their businesses. Over the past year, through our Grow with Google initiative, we've worked with leaders and organizations in Black communities across the US who are helping to close the digital skills divide.

One of these standout organizations with deep community roots is the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. In the 1960s, the church worked tirelessly with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to expand voter registration, paving the way for Carl Stokes to become the first Black mayor of a major U.S. city. Today, under the leadership of Reverend Dr. Jawanza Colvin, community activism and social justice remain at the heart of Olivet Church and its associated Olivet Housing & Community Development Corporation (OHCDC).

Cleveland has the second highest poverty rate among big cities in the U.S., so pathways to jobs is one of Rev. Colvin’s top priorities. Some members of his community and congregation are struggling to get access to good jobs and oftentimes don’t have the training required to change careers. To connect residents with the resources they need to compete for emerging information technology jobs in Cleveland, Rev. Colvin and OHCDC teamed up with Grow with Google to offer the IT Support Professional Certificate Program—an online curriculum designed to prepare people for roles in IT support. By creating cohorts of learners who are going through the IT Certificate curriculum together,  Reverend Colvin and the OHCDC are helping members of the Cleveland community prepare for jobs in a growing industry.

OHCDC is among many organizations who are helping their communities learn new digital skills to grow their careers and businesses. In Indianapolis, Larry Williams, President of the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce, is leveraging our tools and resources to teach local small businesses how to grow online. His first workshop was so popular that he’s continued to offer workshops to more than 100 business owners who are growing and creating more local economic opportunity. And in Columbia, South Carolina, JT McLawhorn—who leads the Columbia Urban League—used the Applied Digital Skills curriculum at their annual STEM careers summit, helping 400 teens in foster care prepare for summer jobs. The Columbia Urban League is now expanding these offerings across the state.

This year we launched the Grow with Google Partner Program to make sure that more community heroes like Reverend Colvin, Larry Williams and JT McLawhorn have access to free digital skill resources that help their communities thrive. We invite local heroes and organizations to learn more and apply at We look forward to continuing to support and celebrate the important work you’re leading in your communities.

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