by Dr. Stephan Blanford and Misha Werschkul
Since the pandemic’s onset, Washington families have experienced a rolling crisis in jobs, hunger, health, and education. The prospect of eviction hangs over far too many. Food insecurity has skyrocketed. Child care facilities have closed, many of them permanently. And a rocky transition to remote learning is now impeding students’ educational progress. The acute stress on children and families may harm kids’ health, their education, and their ability to earn a living.
Continue reading OPINION: Washington’s Children Shouldn’t Have to Relive Our Past Mistakes
by Luna Reyna
Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, Seattle students and their families are still confronting a disproportionately large divide in who can and cannot access technology and online learning, though the City and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) are launching an array of initiatives that could close the gap. According to the May 2020 Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Survey, “at least 8,800 students still need adequate, reliable internet.” A July report published by sea.citi — a network of regional tech and innovation companies working to promote civic engagement and build relationships between community, government, and innovation workers — shows stark inequities among students without access. The most glaring inequity in the report is that almost half of all Black residents in Washington have a barrier to accessing reliable internet. Economic barriers are cited as the most prevalent in households without the internet, making Black students in the state five times more likely to not have access.
Continue reading Seattle Public Schools Works Toward Educational Justice and Digital Equity During the Pandemic
by Mark Van Streefkerk
On July 20, the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) launched the Digital Bridge pilot program, an initiative that connects low-income job seekers with refurbished laptops and broadband internet access. Digital Bridge is sponsored by a public and private partnership with Comcast, Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI), Seattle Information Technology Department (Seattle IT), Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington Information School, and InterConnection. The program was created in response to job losses caused by COVID-19, which particularly impacted POC, immigrants, refugees, and underhoused people. So far, individuals enrolled in workforce development programs through SJI have been provided laptops and internet connection to apply for jobs and complete training programs, which have moved online due to COVID-19.
Continue reading City of Seattle and Comcast Invest $100,000 to Address Digital Equity With Digital Bridge Program