San Mateo County's Latino Digital Divide

San Mateo County's Latino Digital Divide

San Mateo Daily Journal

Olga Talamante | October 15, 2016

In San Mateo County, right between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, 25 percent of Latino families cannot afford a home computer, do not have internet at home and are disconnected from the digital economy that makes our region hum.

I know this because I am executive director of the Chicana/Latina Foundation, which since 1977 has worked to empower Latinas through education and training. Although I have seen great strides made in internet connectivity and digital literacy over the past decade, Latinos are still too far behind. Without home high-speed internet and computers, schoolchildren cannot to do their schoolwork, parents cannot communicate with teachers, adults cannot apply for jobs and seniors cannot connect to health services.

And with every passing day, that digital divide is widening because advances in technology — invented right here in the Bay Area — are leading to socioeconomic opportunities in which the under-connected cannot participate. Silicon Valley companies and philanthropies should be ashamed that so little attention is paid to this Latino digital divide, which is right at their doorstep.

But there is much that can and should be done quickly.

According to the California Emerging Technology Fund’s 2016 Survey on Broadband Adoption in California, the reason so many Latinos are under-connected is cost. It is simply too expensive for families making minimum and low wages to pay both for a home computing device and high-speed internet, along with a cellphone and a monthly data service plan.

Think about it: Owning a computer and a smartphone and paying for internet service on both of them sets you back hundreds of dollars per month. Now imagine if you were making minimum wage working in a Bay Area restaurant. After rent, food, commuting and child care and health care costs — would you really be able to afford a Chromebook and monthly broadband? Probably not.

The United Nations has declared access to the internet a human right, but here in California, one of the richest and most technologically innovative places in the world, access is still a glaring problem.

That’s why Silicon Valley companies and foundations must get in the habit of giving away hundreds of thousands of free computers every year to the low-income people in their backyards. The recent $10,000 donation, along with 400 laptops, from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Redwood City schools is a small but important start.

Silicon Valley companies and foundations must also reach out to the many community-based nonprofits working to provide low-income Californians affordable computers and broadband. Large internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast offer low-cost monthly internet, but they also require consumers to fill out many complicated forms. Nonprofits like the Chicana Latina Foundation and Mission Economic Development Association know how to help low-income people take advantage of these affordable offers, but they need staff and resources to help navigate the process. Community-based organizations are the trusted messengers that can make a difference in closing the digital divide. 

The fact is getting Latino Californians fully connected to our digital economy and society is absolutely within our reach. But it will require corporate beneficence, smart philanthropy and funding for community-based nonprofits. Let’s get this done and see more boats rise on our increasingly digital sea.

Olga Talamante is a Chicana political activist and the executive director of the California-based Chicana/Latina Foundation. She lives in Pacifica.

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In San Mateo County, right between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, 25 percent of Latino families cannot afford a home computer, do not have internet at home and are disconnected from the digital economy that makes our region hum.

I know this because I am executive director of the Chicana/Latina Foundation, which since 1977 has worked to empower Latinas through education and training. Although I have seen great strides made in internet connectivity and digital literacy over the past decade, Latinos are still too far behind. Without home high-speed internet and computers, schoolchildren cannot to do their schoolwork, parents cannot communicate with teachers, adults cannot apply for jobs and seniors cannot connect to health services.

And with every passing day, that digital divide is widening because advances in technology — invented right here in the Bay Area — are leading to socioeconomic opportunities in which the under-connected cannot participate. Silicon Valley companies and philanthropies should be ashamed that so little attention is paid to this Latino digital divide, which is right at their doorstep.

But there is much that can and should be done quickly.

According to the California Emerging Technology Fund’s 2016 Survey on Broadband Adoption in California, the reason so many Latinos are under-connected is cost. It is simply too expensive for families making minimum and low wages to pay both for a home computing device and high-speed internet, along with a cellphone and a monthly data service plan.

Think about it: Owning a computer and a smartphone and paying for internet service on both of them sets you back hundreds of dollars per month. Now imagine if you were making minimum wage working in a Bay Area restaurant. After rent, food, commuting and child care and health care costs — would you really be able to afford a Chromebook and monthly broadband? Probably not.

The United Nations has declared access to the internet a human right, but here in California, one of the richest and most technologically innovative places in the world, access is still a glaring problem.

That’s why Silicon Valley companies and foundations must get in the habit of giving away hundreds of thousands of free computers every year to the low-income people in their backyards. The recent $10,000 donation, along with 400 laptops, from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Redwood City schools is a small but important start.

Silicon Valley companies and foundations must also reach out to the many community-based nonprofits working to provide low-income Californians affordable computers and broadband. Large internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast offer low-cost monthly internet, but they also require consumers to fill out many complicated forms. Nonprofits like the Chicana Latina Foundation and Mission Economic Development Association know how to help low-income people take advantage of these affordable offers, but they need staff and resources to help navigate the process. Community-based organizations are the trusted messengers that can make a difference in closing the digital divide. 

The fact is getting Latino Californians fully connected to our digital economy and society is absolutely within our reach. But it will require corporate beneficence, smart philanthropy and funding for community-based nonprofits. Let’s get this done and see more boats rise on our increasingly digital sea.

 

Olga Talamante is a Chicana political activist and the executive director of the California-based Chicana/Latina Foundation. She lives in Pacifica.

- See more at: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/opinions/2016-10-15/op-ed-san-mateo-countys-latino-digital-divide/1776425169863.html#sthash.8cGfysZd.dpuf

In San Mateo County, right between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, 25 percent of Latino families cannot afford a home computer, do not have internet at home and are disconnected from the digital economy that makes our region hum.

I know this because I am executive director of the Chicana/Latina Foundation, which since 1977 has worked to empower Latinas through education and training. Although I have seen great strides made in internet connectivity and digital literacy over the past decade, Latinos are still too far behind. Without home high-speed internet and computers, schoolchildren cannot to do their schoolwork, parents cannot communicate with teachers, adults cannot apply for jobs and seniors cannot connect to health services.

And with every passing day, that digital divide is widening because advances in technology — invented right here in the Bay Area — are leading to socioeconomic opportunities in which the under-connected cannot participate. Silicon Valley companies and philanthropies should be ashamed that so little attention is paid to this Latino digital divide, which is right at their doorstep.

But there is much that can and should be done quickly.

According to the California Emerging Technology Fund’s 2016 Survey on Broadband Adoption in California, the reason so many Latinos are under-connected is cost. It is simply too expensive for families making minimum and low wages to pay both for a home computing device and high-speed internet, along with a cellphone and a monthly data service plan.

Think about it: Owning a computer and a smartphone and paying for internet service on both of them sets you back hundreds of dollars per month. Now imagine if you were making minimum wage working in a Bay Area restaurant. After rent, food, commuting and child care and health care costs — would you really be able to afford a Chromebook and monthly broadband? Probably not.

The United Nations has declared access to the internet a human right, but here in California, one of the richest and most technologically innovative places in the world, access is still a glaring problem.

That’s why Silicon Valley companies and foundations must get in the habit of giving away hundreds of thousands of free computers every year to the low-income people in their backyards. The recent $10,000 donation, along with 400 laptops, from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Redwood City schools is a small but important start.

Silicon Valley companies and foundations must also reach out to the many community-based nonprofits working to provide low-income Californians affordable computers and broadband. Large internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast offer low-cost monthly internet, but they also require consumers to fill out many complicated forms. Nonprofits like the Chicana Latina Foundation and Mission Economic Development Association know how to help low-income people take advantage of these affordable offers, but they need staff and resources to help navigate the process. Community-based organizations are the trusted messengers that can make a difference in closing the digital divide. 

The fact is getting Latino Californians fully connected to our digital economy and society is absolutely within our reach. But it will require corporate beneficence, smart philanthropy and funding for community-based nonprofits. Let’s get this done and see more boats rise on our increasingly digital sea.

 

Olga Talamante is a Chicana political activist and the executive director of the California-based Chicana/Latina Foundation. She lives in Pacifica.

- See more at: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/opinions/2016-10-15/op-ed-san-mateo-countys-latino-digital-divide/1776425169863.html#sthash.8cGfysZd.dpuf

In San Mateo County, right between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, 25 percent of Latino families cannot afford a home computer, do not have internet at home and are disconnected from the digital economy that makes our region hum.

I know this because I am executive director of the Chicana/Latina Foundation, which since 1977 has worked to empower Latinas through education and training. Although I have seen great strides made in internet connectivity and digital literacy over the past decade, Latinos are still too far behind. Without home high-speed internet and computers, schoolchildren cannot to do their schoolwork, parents cannot communicate with teachers, adults cannot apply for jobs and seniors cannot connect to health services.

And with every passing day, that digital divide is widening because advances in technology — invented right here in the Bay Area — are leading to socioeconomic opportunities in which the under-connected cannot participate. Silicon Valley companies and philanthropies should be ashamed that so little attention is paid to this Latino digital divide, which is right at their doorstep.

But there is much that can and should be done quickly.

According to the California Emerging Technology Fund’s 2016 Survey on Broadband Adoption in California, the reason so many Latinos are under-connected is cost. It is simply too expensive for families making minimum and low wages to pay both for a home computing device and high-speed internet, along with a cellphone and a monthly data service plan.

Think about it: Owning a computer and a smartphone and paying for internet service on both of them sets you back hundreds of dollars per month. Now imagine if you were making minimum wage working in a Bay Area restaurant. After rent, food, commuting and child care and health care costs — would you really be able to afford a Chromebook and monthly broadband? Probably not.

The United Nations has declared access to the internet a human right, but here in California, one of the richest and most technologically innovative places in the world, access is still a glaring problem.

That’s why Silicon Valley companies and foundations must get in the habit of giving away hundreds of thousands of free computers every year to the low-income people in their backyards. The recent $10,000 donation, along with 400 laptops, from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Redwood City schools is a small but important start.

Silicon Valley companies and foundations must also reach out to the many community-based nonprofits working to provide low-income Californians affordable computers and broadband. Large internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast offer low-cost monthly internet, but they also require consumers to fill out many complicated forms. Nonprofits like the Chicana Latina Foundation and Mission Economic Development Association know how to help low-income people take advantage of these affordable offers, but they need staff and resources to help navigate the process. Community-based organizations are the trusted messengers that can make a difference in closing the digital divide. 

The fact is getting Latino Californians fully connected to our digital economy and society is absolutely within our reach. But it will require corporate beneficence, smart philanthropy and funding for community-based nonprofits. Let’s get this done and see more boats rise on our increasingly digital sea.

 

Olga Talamante is a Chicana political activist and the executive director of the California-based Chicana/Latina Foundation. She lives in Pacifica.

 

  - See more at: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/opinions/2016-10-15/op-ed-san-mateo-countys-latino-digital-divide/1776425169863.html#sthash.8cGfysZd.dpuf

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