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 Suchita Mandavilli, our communications associate. Find posts from other staff members here.
During the spring of my senior year, I, like everyone around me, was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had majored in philosophy, with a focus on political philosophy. I spent a lot of time in my undergraduate career thinking and reading about justice and democracy; I was fueled by ideals of what a just society should look like but at a complete loss for how we should actually get there.
EveryoneOn’s solution is exactly what drew me to the organization. I came to work here through Princeton University’s Project 55 Fellowship program, which aims to connect recent graduates with opportunities at innovative public interest organizations around the country. I was immediately interested in EveryoneOn because of its innovative method of achieving a more just society—technology.
Working for the communications team, I’ve loved driving awareness around the issue of the digital divide. The Internet is a tool that has and will continue to revolutionize the fields of education, health, governance, and so much more. Technology offers the ability to provide the best opportunities to everyone, no matter your location or background. But can these changes be truly revolutionary if they’re only available to a select portion of our population? And worse yet, if they’re not available to those who need them most?
The answer is, simply, no. Twenty-seven percent of our population is being left behind. There are now a nontrivial number of things you cannot do without the Internet. And time at the public library or on your smartphone just doesn’t cut it. Access to Internet isn’t just about being able to stream Netflix or post on Facebook; it’s also about being able to apply for jobs, having the skills necessary to perform many jobs, having healthy financial habits, accessing information, communicating with your government, and more.
We can no longer say that those who do not have home Internet have the same opportunities for success as those who do. They don’t. They’re disadvantaged. But it’s a disadvantage we can and should remedy.
That’s what EveryoneOn is trying to do. We’re leveraging the power of technology and digital literacy to help make sure we all really do have the same opportunities to succeed. And that’s exactly why I work here.
Suchita Mandavilli is the communications associate at EveryoneOn. Follow her on Twitter at @SSMandavilli.