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Digital equity and inclusion are fundamental for educational and career growth across all fields.
Join us as we tackle this issue and hear from local leaders on what Silicon Valley is doing and needs to do to increase the digital equity landscape.
Meet our Moderator
Sunne Wright McPeak is the President and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a statewide non-profit foundation whose mission is to close the Digital Divide by accelerating the deployment and adoption of broadband. With McPeak’s vision and drive, CETF has positioned California as a national leader in advancing Digital Inclusion, developing and launching groundbreaking initiatives such as the Digital Literacy Executive Order, School2Home, California Telehealth Network, and public information campaigns Get Connected!, Internet For All Now, and Digital Equity Bill of Rights.
Meet our Panelists
Anna G. Eshoo
Like the Silicon Valley region she represents, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo exemplifies innovation. She’s creative, productive, a problem solver, and a consensus builder. For over two decades in Congress, Rep. Eshoo has defended consumers, promoted American competitiveness and innovation, fought for access to health care for families and children, protected the environment, and encouraged development of clean energy technology.
Mayor Sam Liccardo serves in his second term as Mayor of the 10th largest city in the United States, having recently won re-election with 76% of the vote. During his tenure as Mayor, Sam launched a Smart City Vision, aiming to make San Jose America’s most innovative city, in part by bridging the digital divide. He launched
the nation’s first Digital Inclusion Fund to provide broadband access, devices and skills to low-income families, and by 2020, the City’s efforts with community partners have connected more than 100,000 low-income San Jose residents with free
Poncho Guevara's professional career has been geared toward the advancement of economically disadvantaged communities –from providing direct services targeting low-income union members to serving in executive management roles in nonprofit housing development corporations. Poncho has also served in leadership roles for regional collaboratives and commissions such as the Santa Clara County Collaborative on Affordable Housing and Homeless Issues and the NOVA Workforce Board.
Digital Equity Coalition President
Devon Conley is President of the Digital Equity Coalition and Board President of the Mountain View Whisman School District. As a national award winning elementary school teacher, Conley's career in education spans the past nineteen years and includes working in education policy research and teaching elementary school in San Francisco, San Jose, and Mountain View. Along with five other school board trustees from throughout Santa Clara County, Conley co-founded the Digital Equity Coalition in 2020 to address the lack of Internet access for students and families across California.
The Digital Divide
The digital divide describes the gap between those who have access to the Internet and computers and those who don’t. Barriers to access include lack of broadband access, the affordability and limitations of data plans from Internet Service Providers, lack of devices like computers and hotspots, and lack of digital literacy.
Despite California’s leadership role in the technology industry, 26% of the state’s K-12 students and almost 40% of low income students do not have reliable Internet access.* There is also a racial/ethnic gap in broadband access. Despite on average 84% of Californian’s having broadband subscriptions, 21% of Latino households and 19% of Black households do not.
Articles and Reports
CalMatters published a comprehensive three part series on the digital divide last week: ○ Part 1: “The wires may be there, but the dollars aren’t: Analysis shows why millions of California students lack broadband.”
2019 Annual Report California Advanced Services Fund from the California Public Utilities Commission
Broadband Adoption Gap Analysis: California Advanced Services Fund Adoption Account, June 2019
“To Stop digital ‘redlining’ and help students, make the internet an essential utility” Opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee written by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Martha Guzman Aceves, a commissioner on the California Public Utilities Commission
"How to solve California’s digital divide” outlines recommendations by Lloyd Levine, a senior policy fellow at the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside
"Just the Facts, California’s Digital Divide” from the Public Policy Institute of California
Proposed State Legislation
Assembly Bill 14 and Senate Bill 4: Assembly Bill 14 (Aguiar-Curry) and Senate Bill 4 (Gonzalez) are Assembly/Senate counterparts of the same policy proposal brought by a policy group in the State Congress working on broadband access. The bills include amendments and regulatory structure to fund public broadband and remove legal roadblocks, lobbied by Internet Service Providers, that block competitive growth of public broadband. A $1 billion bond is included as seed money to support a state-wide fiber backbone.
Assembly Bill 34: Assembly Bill 34 (Muratsuchi) is an authorization bill stating intent to enact the Broadband for All Act of 2022, a ballot measure for the 2022 general election that includes a $10 billion bond to fund public broadband development in California.
Digital Equity Coalition’s Resolution in Support of California Broadband Legislation
*Niu Gao and Joseph Hayes, “Just the Facts, California’s Digital Divide,” Public Policy Institute of California, February 2021, https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-digital-divide/