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San Francisco, United StatesSan Francisco, United States
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

TRAIL is an online education company that is the "first stop" on the Internet, bringing people their first experience online.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

everyone knew how to use the Internet?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Online learning has become a revolution, but one that has left many learners behind. Amazing learning experiences, provided through MOOC’s, allow Internet users to have transformative educational experiences. Despite the growing importance of the Internet in American life, 1 in 5 Americans are not digitally literate. There are 60 million Americans who do not know how to use the Internet. This number is nearly 6 billion people worldwide.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

TRAIL is an online education company dedicated to bringing people their first experience with the Internet. TRAIL’s platforms, JobScout ( and HealthScout (, allow thousands of learners to become Internet savvy. With users in over 12 countries, TRAIL is on its way to becoming the “first stop” on the Internet. In the US alone, there are over 300,000 libraries, workforce development centers, prisons, adult education programs, community colleges and high schools trying to reach the unemployed and underemployed population. Internationally, the market for JobScout in both English and Spanish is remarkably larger. We use a hybrid of offline service points and web and mobile apps to meet people at their point of need.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our goal was to build a platform that was well designed and easy-to-use. Our lesson content is currently mapped to the State of California Basic Digital Literacy Skills Framework. The lessons themselves use an interactive model, reinforcing lesson content with quizzes and simple games, so that our users retain the Internet skills they have learned. We further help our learners apply these skills by providing easy-to-use features on our platforms so they get some experience navigating an online platform. Our lessons cover everything from Internet basics, like using a browser to setting up an email account, to more advanced life skill specific content. Our JobScout platform teaches basic Internet skills in the context of finding a job.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Reach: JobScout is recognized in the CA Department of Technology’s strategic plan as the type of application necessary for Californians to bridge the digital divide. TRAIL has partnered with over 1,000 libraries in CA and is also working with the LA County Office of Education and the Santa Clara County Office of Social Services. We have reached tens of thousands of people. Meaningful Data: While many platforms provide tools and resources, few provide analytics to provide meaningful data that can be leveraged to shape future efforts and meet reporting requirements. TRAIL’s analytics platform COMPASS not only helps organizations refine and measure the impact of their digital literacy services but also gives them a access to the first digital footprint of new Internet users. What’s next? Rolling out to Macon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Costa Rica.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our sustainability model is two-fold: SaaS and Lead Generation/Advertising. Public institutions need meaningful data, and our subscription-based data analytics system, COMPASS, gives them the metrics they need. We will serve as Lead-Gen by getting our users to sign up for a platform during or directly after the completion of a lesson.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We do not have any direct competitors. While some non-profit and governmental organizations have tried to provide digital literacy learning content online, it is not engaging and incomplete. It provides a disappointing and subpar experience for the learner.

Founding Story

Our origins are non-traditional. TRAIL is a startup that was never meant to be a startup. The platform arose from a partnership of the California State Library and the LINK AMERICAS Foundation, the foundation responsible for shepherding the nation's first statewide effort to tackle digital literacy in California. The call to action was to create "something" to aid the millions of Californians who rely on libraries and community organizations for their Internet access and source of employment information. Our users to master understanding what a URL is before they can even attempt to code in HTML.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country

, San Francisco

Country where this project is creating social impact

, CA, San Francisco, San Francisco County

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Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

Our distribution comes through both partnerships and through our customer base who who distribute accessibility to the platform at the local level. We currently have relationships with over 1,000 locations in the United States, including libraries, workforce development centers, schools and other community-based organizations and service providers. We have gained a substantial portion of our current user base of the platform through earned media. Moving forward, we will also be focusing on healthcare as a secondary offering to jobs. Our vision is to the first stop on the Internet.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

One of the key barriers is a lack of recognition that digital illiteracy is a problem. California is currently the only state with a digital literacy policy. Our goal is to run advocacy efforts, which we have already started ( to target the adoption of a national digital literacy policy and as well as complimentary policies at the state level.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

We are partnered with the California State Library, the LINK AMERICAS Foundation, the California Department of Technology, Connect 2 Compete, CalInnovates, and a host of individual social services locations across the country.

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Help funders, governments, and other organizations to listen to and act on feedback.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

The COMPASS data analytics system allows customers to track the progress of users, demonstrating the correlation between digital literacy education and meaningful real world application. With this data, organizations can better understand their users’ needs and interests and therefore refine their offline programming to meet those needs. COMPASS data also helps organizations provide more effective individual case management, as administrators can use the data on an individual’s digital literacy, improve their guidance and intervene when necessary.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?


2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?
What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

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Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?
What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

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How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

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Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.
If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?
What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

If other, please specify
Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?