Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment receives Lead Gift for Major Upgrade

October 10, 2017

MHTA — The Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment – a Minnesota product – provides an accessible, effective, low-cost means to assess the digital literacy and basic computer skills of adults needing a certificate for employment or to access higher education. In just a few years, the nonprofit online assessment has been completed over 2,000,000 times, and is in use at nearly 500 paid sponsor sites in 38 states and territories.

Northstar has begun a major upgrade, which will update all modules to current internet standards and develop a customized codebase to insure long-term viability. The program, part of the Minnesota Literacy Council, just received a lead $100,000 gift towards its $400,000 goal. The gift is one of two initial awards announced by the Employment Technology Fund, an innovative impact investing initiative of the New Venture Fund, made possible with funding from the Joyce Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Walmart Foundation.

“We are actively seeking grants and contributions to complete this major upgrade,” said Eric Nesheim, Executive Director of the Minnesota Literacy Council and a member of the Governor’s Workforce Development Council. “Northstar has already become a major player in the adult basic education and in workforce development, with proven value to both job seekers and employers. Completing the upgrade will allow Northstar to increase long-term viability, add many new features, and expand outreach and marketing.”

Those interested in further information on the campaign can contact Eric at 651-251-9070,, or Northstar manager Tom Cytron-Hysom,, 651-695-1734.

NorthStar initially grew out of St. Paul community needs to quickly and easily assess basic computer and digital literacy skills in libraries. The assessment addresses 10 areas including the Windows and Mac operating systems; the Microsoft Office suite; Internet; Email; and Social Media. Recently, an information literacy module was developed. It is widely used in libraries, adult basic education, junior and technical colleges, workforce centers, businesses, and community based nonprofits.

Founded in 2012, NorthStar provides a digital literacy assessment solution that fulfills a great need for low-skill adults on their path to literacy and employment. Northstar was co-created by the Saint Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium. NorthStar is based in St. Paul, Minnesota.


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