by Shasti Conrad
In Washington State and around the country, the coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how crucial internet access is to everyday life. We’ve relied on the internet to attend school and work and to stay connected with friends and family. It’s difficult to imagine navigating this devastating pandemic without these modern tech advancements.
Unfortunately, not everyone was able to stay connected during this challenging year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 700,000 Washingtonians do not have an internet connection in their homes due to obstacles like a lack of affordable broadband options, and an additional 500,000 residents must rely on cell phone data plans. In King County, nearly one in four adults face internet access barriers such as the high cost of internet service plans or connected devices.
Continue reading OPINION: We Must Close the Digital Wealth Divide
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
by Nisha Daniels and Heather Hart
Schools are a great equalizer. On March 13, 2020, schools across Washington state shut down all classroom learning. With the shuttering of schools, thousands of students in our community lost their access to computers and internet connectivity. For many in our South Seattle community the digital divide is acute and there is little relief in sight.
Continue reading OPINION: High-Quality Internet Has Been Long Overdue for All Seattle Students