As we enter a new year, the staff at EveryoneOn has taken some time to reflect on exactly what brought us to work on the issue of the digital divide and what continues to drive us in our work. This post is by Norma Fernandez, our California regional manager. Find posts from other staff members here.
A few months ago I coordinated an event in Los Angeles where EveryoneOn, in collaboration with several nonprofit partners, assisted 80 people subscribe to low-cost Internet service. One of these people was Lilian Ramos.
Lilian arrived two hours early to the event to make sure she was one of the first ones to subscribe to the Internet and receive her donated computer. Her motivation? Two young daughters who are in middle school and require Internet access in order to complete their homework. Additionally, having Internet at home meant no more trips to McDonald’s and staying there for hours at a time in order to get online. When Lilian shared this experience with me, I thought, “This is why this work is so important and impactful!”
Sadly, Lilian and her daughters are not the only ones that take trips to fast food restaurants, grocery stores, or other locations to get online. They are one of millions of households in the U.S. that are “unconnected.”
Fact: there are nearly 25 million American households without home Internet.
There are more unconnected households in the United States than there are people in Australia! Believe it, or not, it’s a real issue facing our country and it has real impacts on our educational and economic competitiveness.
I joined the EveryoneOn team in November 2013 to help tackle the digital divide. In an environment where Internet access and technology play a fundamental role in education, employment, health, civic engagement, and other areas; scenarios like Lilian’s are not acceptable and they should not be ignored.
This is why I am happy to be part of an organization that is committed to making sure everyone has the opportunity to access and leverage the power of the Internet. Every time we help a family or individual get connected, the impacts extend beyond the household. By assisting people get online, we are linking them with the tools, resources, and information they need to transform their lives AND their communities. And this is my passion.
Norma Fernandez is the California regional manager at EveryoneOn. Follow her on Twitter at @normaestela.