The East Bay Broadband Consortium (EBBC) has joined together with the Tech Exchange to devise a strategy for bridging the Digital Divide in the East Bay. Here’s one of the reasons.
THE HOMEWORK GAP: “School-aged kids without broadband access at home are not only unable to complete their homework – they enter the job market with a serious handicap. This is what I call the homework gap, and it is the cruelest part of the digital divide,” Jessica Rosenworcel, outgoing member of the Federal Communications Commission, has asserted.
Seven in 10 teachers now assign homework that requires web access. Yet one-third of kindergartners through 12th graders in the United States, from low-income households, are unable to go online from home.
“For young people, broadband is like the air we breathe,” according to James P. Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media. “It’s essential for school and future job opportunity. It is desperately important that we make broadband affordable for low-income families and minorities, because we can’t be a society of haves and have-nots.”
HITTING CLOSE TO HOME: The Digital Divide isn’t some national problem that doesn’t apply to the tech-heavy tech-savvy East Bay. It hits close to home. According to the American Communities Survey, in Oakland for example:
- Approximately 47% of low-income residents ages 0-14 don’t have access to a computer at home.
- More than 32% of low-income residents ages 0-14 don’t have access to Internet at home.
A SOLUTION: The Tech Exchange and EBBC are tackling this problem head on through a strategy called the Digital Inclusion Solution, which provides low income families with:
- Free refurbished desktop computers, digital literacy training, and tech support.
- Affordable Internet options for under $10 a month.
Supported by grants from the California Public Utilities Commission and the Thomas J. Long Foundation, the Digital Inclusion Solution is a remarkable success story, holding Tech Fair events at schools and community sites to give computers, training, and Internet subscription assistance directly to kids and their families.
IMPRESSIVE RESULTS: As you can see from the map, the results are impressive. Last year the Tech Exchange/EBBC put on 65 Tech Fairs and 2,356 families throughout the East Bay got free computers, digital literacy training, tech support and the opportunity to sign up for high speed internet at home for under $10 a month.
EVERYONE CAN HELP: There are many ways you can help in the process of bridging the Digital Divide in the East Bay, for example:
- You can come to the East Bay Broadband Summit 2017 to learn more about the Digital Inclusion Solution and EBBC’s other strategies for helping to bridge the Digital Divide and how you and your company or organization can participate.
- You and/or your company or organization can donate your used computers to the Tech Exchange to be refurbished and given to low income kids and their families.
- You can make a financial donation to the Tech Exchange during the East Bay Gives 24-hour online giving blitz starting at midnight on May 4.
The Digital Divide hurts us all. We don’t want to be a region broken into digital haves and have nots. The good news is that there are easy ways for each of us to contribute so that, together, we really can succeed in eliminating the Digital Divide in the East Bay.