CETF - On a mission to close the Digital Divide - Page 13

Partners in Bridging the Digital Divide special promotional section


Advocating for Broadband Equity

The pandemic has illuminated the importance of intentionally and strategically closing the Digital Divide ,” says Garth Lewis , County Superintendent of Schools for the Yolo County Office of Education . “ In Yolo County , our families in rural , unincorporated areas struggle with access to broadband . Additionally , the cost is prohibitive for families in all areas of the county .”
“ An investment in broadband is an investment in our children ’ s future ,” Lewis adds . “ For students , internet access is critical to their curriculum now and , as they become adults , it ’ s critical to making them fully capable digital citizens able to participate in society .”
In Yolo County , only 83 % of households have broadband internet and in 2019 , nearly 51 % of students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch . Some families may be forced to choose food and housing over internet access , driving an equity and access issue .
“ We are collaborating with other agencies — from our county , cities and school districts — to understand where broadband access is limited and exploring ways to lower internet costs by leveraging available resources to support families ,” Lewis says . “ We are also partnering with local legislators like Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry , sponsor of Assembly Bill 14 , to understand the impacts of broadband access for education .”
Assembly Bill 14 , or the Internet for All Act , would deploy broadband infrastructure to close the Digital Divide , with a goal to provide broadband access to underserved households throughout California . “ The last 14 months have made clear what many of us from small towns and rural areas have known for years : we ’ re not using all of the technological tools available to us to serve our people ,” says Aguiar-Curry . The Yolo County Office of Education is helping the legislature understand the impact of the Digital Divide by capturing the student voice and experience .

“ An investment in broadband is an investment in our children ’ s future .”

— Garth Lewis County Superintendent of Schools
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