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Imagine the stress on a single parent whose youngest comes down with a fever at 10 p . m . Instead of piling everyone into the car for a long wait at an ER , they can hop online and talk to a healthcare provider .
Think of office workers whose buildings have closed because of COVID-19 . Instead of losing months of income , they can set up a home office at the kitchen table and attend meetings , communicate with colleagues and keep up with workflow online .
Consider a child who hasn ’ t been able to attend in-person classes since March 2020 . Instead of losing an entire year of learning , the young student can attend school online .
Think of a senior who can ’ t shop for groceries due to health concerns . Instead of becoming increasingly isolated with no access to services , they can order groceries online and talk to family and friends over Zoom .
These scenarios might seem very familiar from the past year of pandemic life , but the common denominator — reliable , affordable access to the internet — is far from guaranteed for a portion of the population . In fact , recent findings tell us that some 80 million U . S . residents are unconnected and underconnected , living in rural communities , tribal lands and lowincome urban neighborhoods , or who have a disability or lack digital skills .
This lack of connectivity has become known as the Digital Divide , the gap between those who have access to modern information and communication technologies and those who do not . Without reliable , affordable access to broadband internet services , millions of households are being left behind in the increasingly online world we live in , putting them at a disadvantage without dependable access to telehealth , remote work , distance learning and other crucial services .
What Is the Digital Divide ?
It has become increasingly clear , especially during the pandemic , that closing the Digital Divide is imperative for an equitable , functional society . The California Emerging Technology Fund is a statewide nonprofit foundation with offices in the Bay Area , Los Angeles and San Jose that has been operating since 2007 with the mission to close the Digital Divide in California . It was directed to be established as a nonprofit corporation by the California Public Utilities Commission in approving the mergers of SBC-AT & T and Verizon-MCI with the goals of expanding deployment and making home broadband access ubiquitous .
CETF provides grants to nonprofit community-based organizations to assist low-income households adopt broadband and become digitally proficient ; leads and manages School2Home to successfully integrate technology into teaching and learning , with deep parent engagement to close the achievement gap in middle schools in underserved neighborhoods ; and promotes digital inclusion in public policy to achieve Digital Equity .
“ It must be acknowledged and understood that the Digital Divide is simply another manifestation of the economic divide ,” says CETF President and CEO Sunne Wright McPeak . “ The most
“ It ’ s time for leadership from the highest levels of government and business to crush the Wall of Poverty .”
Sunne Wright McPeak President and CEO California Emerging Technology Fund
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