CETF - On a mission to close the Digital Divide - Page 3

special promotional section


The California Emerging Technology Fund has been on a mission for more than a decade to forge partnerships and foster public policy to close the Digital Divide . This work is strategicallyfocused , results-oriented , and people-centered .
CETF is guided by a Strategic Action Plan adopted by the Board of Directors based on research and experience about what works to advance Digital Equity .
CETF , a nonprofit foundation which began operations in 2007 , serves as a “ catalyst for action ” by setting statewide goals for broadband deployment and adoption and then enlisting civic and business leaders , universities and foundations , and community organizations to help achieve Digital Equity . Our Quest for Digital Equity recognizes that the Digital Divide is simply another manifestation of the Economic Divide and that concentrated , persistent poverty is rooted in institutionalized racism . Thus , closing the Digital Divide must address the inter-related factors and forces that we call the “ Wall of Poverty ” that make it very difficult for low-income residents to escape oppressive economic conditions , succeed in school or get a good job .
The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated the Digital Divide and laid bare the widespread inequities that demand immediate action to accelerate the deployment and adoption of broadband throughout the state .
The most effective and efficient way to accomplish these goals is through a sincere public-private partnership in which : ( a ) Internet Service Providers increase advertising about their affordable offers in collaboration with community media ; improve affordable offers to match the need for data and speed ; remove barriers for low-income households to sign up ; step up or step aside to increase deployment in rural areas with government subsidies ; and partner with community organizations as trusted messengers ; and ( b ) all governments and public agencies remove barriers to constructing broadband infrastructure and distribute affordable offer information to all low-income households .
This is just common sense , but the opportunity still eludes both sides from joining forces in a deep and abiding partnership with a sense of urgency that embraces Digital Equity as a 21st Century Civil Right .
We are pleased to present in this Special Section the latest findings of the Statewide Survey on Broadband Adoption , which CETF has sponsored since 2008 . The 2021 Survey , in partnership with the University of Southern California , provides vital
CETF President and CEO Sunne Wright McPeak
information to help guide practical and strategic policymaking and shape results-focused solutions based on our on-theground experience and lessons from the pandemic .
However , technology is only a tool — powerful and empowering — but must be coupled to the pursuit of academic excellence for all students to truly close the Digital Divide . As Dr . Manuel Pastor says , Digital Inclusion must be “ baked in ” not “ sprinkled on ” policy and practice . It must be infused and integrated into everything we do to achieve Digital Equity . Yet , we also must do more — it is time to make “ Good Trouble ,” as we were implored by late civil rights leader and Congressman John R . Lewis .
The companion pandemics of COVID-19 and de facto economic segregation compel us to renew a collective commitment to tackle poverty with a laser focus that realigns public resources and attracts private investment with accountability for results . The sobering realities confront us with these questions : Will protest lead the way to policy ? Will the substance of our actions match the power of symbols ? Will we finally come together to deliver for everyone on the promise of America and the potential of California ? It is only a matter of LEADERSHIP to say YES to a better future for all Californians .
Sunne Wright McPeak President and CEO California Emerging Technology Fund
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