Would you settle for 58%?

Progress has been made to bridge the digital divide gap among Latinos-58% of Latinos now have broadband access at home.
This is breaking news today from the Public Policy Institute of California’s (PPIC) recently released “Just the Facts” report, which focuses on understanding California’s Digital Divide.

Since 2008 broadband access in the home has increased by 24% among Latinos, from 34% to 58%. While this is great momentum and very exciting news, when you compare it to other ethnic groups in California we still have a long way to go. In the state, 84% of Whites, 76% of Asians, and 74% of Blacks are connected to broadband at home.

Even more important, when you dig a little deeper through the data, we see that only 48% of foreign-born Latinos, 46% of those who prefer to speak Spanish and 50% of Latinos making less than $40,000 have broadband. Most often, these three characteristics exist simultaneously among Latino families.

We know this from our work through LCF’s Mobile Broadband Awareness (MBA) program that reached over 25,000 families and trained 5,000 mostly low-income Latinas in the San Francisco Bay Area. (To read more about this LCF program click here) http://latinocf.org/pdf/Orange_Strategies.pdf

It is unacceptable that half of California’s children are growing up in homes where they have little or no access to the Internet. How do we “educate to innovate” American children if these children do not have access to the most fundamental building block of the 21st century-the Internet?

At LCF we are not going to sit back, behind our computers, and accept the fact that we have Silicon Valley in our backyard, yet children in East Palo Alto grow up in households with no access to the Internet. Being disconnected means much more than lack of internet access, it means that many opportunities are still out of reach. The Internet has become an essential tool for finding jobs, increasing access to education and information, and engaging civically in our communities and the world. The United Nations recently called it a human right. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/06/united-nations-report-internet-access-is-a-human-right.html

So the question remains, where do we go from here?
1. Integrate digital access in core issues-We can no longer see this as a “Digital Divide” issue, because it affects every aspect of our society. This is an issue that impacts education, economic development, health, and civic participation. Therefore, the blueprint for public education and economic development, for example, must actively include solutions to increase digital access.
2. Increase resources– At LCF, we know that increasing digital access is an integral strategy for eliminating the achievement gap, stimulating job creation, and as a long-term strategy for lifting communities out of poverty. We are committed to expanding investments to increase digital opportunities so that our children have what they need to succeed. It cannot only be the focus of a few philanthropic efforts; it has to be a larger team effort.

We must all-government, private sector, philanthropy, community leaders-step up and together do more to build a better, more prosperous future for California.