Grant to help ‘bridge digital divide’ through technology help for Greenfield seniors


Staff Writer

GREENFIELD — Thanks to a $99,773 grant, area seniors will gain increased access to technology and the resources to learn how to use it.

The award, which comes from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, will benefit the Council on Aging’s Tech Savvy Seniors project. Thanks to the grant, the Council on Aging will be able to purchase 50 iPad tablets that include keyboard and trackpad attachments. Some iPads will remain at the Greenfield Senior Center for seniors to engage with during their visit at no expense.

“Tech Savvy Seniors is a longtime goal coming to fruition,” said Council on Aging Director Hope Macary, noting that she’s thrilled to help “bridge the digital divide” by providing devices and ongoing educational support. “I’ve been keenly interested in technology since attending nursing school at [Greenfield Community College], where I gained tech skills and then served as a computer tutor as an adult learner.”

The Council on Aging will assign at least 40 of the purchased iPads for seniors to participate in educational outreach after they complete a digital equity intake form.

The free informational component is provided through GCC’s Cyber Seniors program, which has helped roughly 100 seniors via hands-on training since its debut in 2021. Associate Dean of Community Engagement Judy Raper will lead workshops for iPad recipients to learn how to use the device and protect their privacy/personal information. Seniors will be able to keep their new devices after the course.

“Over the past several years, I have become increasingly aware of the difference that digital literacy skills can make in the quality of life for older adults,” Raper said. “I am thrilled that we will be able to enhance our current offerings to increase support for this population around navigating technology. Part of the role of technology is developing the capacity to connect. For many older adults, this is essential to their well-being, and this grant will help us support them in developing the necessary skills to do so.”

A portion of the grant funding will allow GCC to subcontract a part-time cyber senior regional coordinator who will take inquiries from interested seniors, track appointments and session topics, host information sessions about the program and arrange the hiring of cyber senior mentors.

The mentors work with older adults one-on-one during in-person appointments to help them navigate technology. Sessions are held at GCC, the John Zon Community Center/Greenfield Senior Center and Franklin County’s YMCA.

“I want to expand the locations where people are getting one-on-one assistance, so we’ll be working with the YMCA, as well as the Senior Center, and we’ll be reaching out to some of the public housing units,” Raper added. “The idea is to help more older adults one-on-one with their devices.”

GCC will also be offering free computer classes for older adults on Fridays from noon to 2 p.m., beginning Sept. 8 and continuing through Sept. 29. People can register on the GCC website. There will be more workshops offered later this fall and in the spring.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.

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