The Enhancing Digital Literacy for Older Adults Grant is a $1.5 million program funded by American Rescue Plan Act Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) that is designed to help councils on Aging (COAs) improve the digital literacy of older adults. Grants of up to $100,000 per COA are available for COAs in Massachusetts to:
- Purchase devices, software, or broadband for older adults; technology purchases for the COA are also allowed if they facilitate the goal of increasing the digital literacy of older adults
- Provide training, education, or support to enhance digital literacy for older adults in a COA's service area or older adults who access the COA
Overall, the goal of the grant is to help older adults use technology in a way that strengthens, enhances and expands HCBS. This may include helping older adults engage in telehealth, access medical information, connect with family or caregivers, participate in preventive health courses, participate in healthy aging programming, or find and access supports to age in the community.
Who can apply?
Municipal Councils on Aging (COAs) located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are eligible to apply.
COAs can also create partnerships - with more COAs or other agencies - to apply together. If applicants do with to apply together, the COA that will act as the financial agent for the grant should submit one application on behalf of the entire partnership. For additional details on applying as a partnership, including budget guidelines, please see the FAQ under Helpful Resources.
COAs representing Gateway Cities and rural communities are encouraged to apply. Areas that fall into these categories can be identified in the Department of Public Health's Office of Rural Health Rural Definition and Mass General Law Chapter 23 Section 3A Gateway Municipality Definition.
Any proposed grant activities should include technology purchases, technology training and support or both.
Technology purchases should emphasize devices, software, and broadband for older adults, but equipment to help the COA support digital literacy is also permitted. If an older adult receives a device for permanent use, it cannot be more than $500 in value (excluding device loaner programs).
Eligible items for purchase include, but are not limited to:
- Tablets, laptops, and computers
- Monitors, keyboards, and computer mouses
- Speech-to-text/Text-to-speech software
- Mobile hotspots or stipends for home internet (for older adults who are not eligible for the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program)
Technology training and support should improve older adults' digital literacy and help them use devices in a meaningful way. Training may be delivered remotely and/or in-person. When possible, in-person training is preferred and can be help anywhere mutually agreed upon by the COA and older person.
Eligible training and support expenses include, but are not limited to:
- Part- or full-time staff to provide training/support
- Contracts for training or support with a third party
- Devices to help older adults access training (e.g., headphones, webcams)
- Equipment for training sessions (e.g., projectors, demonstration devices)
Grant funds cannot be used for:
- Televisions or streaming subscriptions
- Personal emergency response systems
- Pet-related technology or fees, including robotic or electronic comfort pets
- Home appliances
- Home automation devices or security systems
- Voice-activated hardware or software
Grant funds can be used to supplement, but not supplant, existing Medicaid HCBS or any other state-funded initiatives. Grant funds also must not overlap with any Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waiver extension proposals.
Interested applicants can attend a Bidder's Conference on April 26 from 11:00 am to 12 pm to learn more about the Enhancing Digital Literacy for Older Adults Grant and ask any questions. Please email MAHCBSGrants@pcgus.com by April 20 to receive information about the Bidder's Conference.
You can also explore the following resources:
For questions about the grant program, please email MAHCBSGrants@pcgus.com. You must submit any questions before the deadline, which is April 28.
Questions will not be answered individually. On May 12, answers to all submitted questions will be posted on mass.gov.
You cannot make any changes to your grant application after it is submitted.