The collective effort of making sure that all students have access to online learning does  not take a break this summer, especially for those living in the most underserved communities of Greater Los Angeles.

Throughout the pandemic, United Way of Greater Los Angeles has partnered with the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) on the Internet for All project, which includes collaboration with EveryoneOn (EO), to bring low-cost Internet services to low-income families.

With summer school around the corner, struggling students who are recovering from learning loss due to the pandemic need continued access to high-speed internet in order to take advantage of virtual learning options at home.

“The California Emerging Technology Fund is proud of its collaboration with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles to close the Digital Divide and improve educational outcomes during this critical time,” said Sunne Wright McPeak, CETF President and CEO. “We encourage all civic leaders to continue to share information on how to register for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and education leaders to learn about the School2Home Core Components which provide a much needed framework and resources on how to ensure that technology is successfully integrated into the teaching and learning at our most high-need schools.”

The partnership between CETF and UWGLA has focused on closing the Digital Divide and leveraging access to technology at home and at school to help increase student academic achievement. CETF has provided guidance on how to successfully access low-cost internet service, negotiating the Emergency Broadband Benefit subsidy from the federal government and promoting the EveryoneOn portal to help connect low-income families.

“Over the last three years, we have been able to forge a powerful partnership with CETF grounded in trust in order to expand affordable internet for L.A. County’s highest needs families. The California Emerging Technology Fund has been on a mission over the last decade to develop partnerships and foster public policy to close the Digital Divide,” said Norma Rodriguez, UWGLA Director Education Programs & Policy. “They have been at the forefront of connecting families to the EveryoneOn portal as well as easing tech support for schools through their School2Home model. We are proud to partner with them to amplify this powerful work.”

Rodriguez noted that through this partnership, thousands of families have been connected to low-cost internet service. Workshops have also been hosted with direct service providers in order for them to be able to better serve and connect families to programs such as ACP and School2Home. “We have also proudly partnered with various local and state legislative efforts to bridge the Digital Divide,” she said. “We look forward to continuing to foster and build our partnership in the name of supporting our highest needs families.”

Last year, UWGLA polled over 800 students K-12 in L.A. County, who overwhelmingly identified technology as a top need to support their education when they were to return to in-person school in the fall. Overall, 86% of students surveyed noted technology as a “critical resource.”

“The Digital Divide is a civil rights issue. It was a challenge long before the pandemic that was further exacerbated with the move to a digital/distance learning education model. The chronic lack of home internet access for people of color, low-income households, and rural residents became glaringly obvious,” Rodriguez said. “The great news is that many organizations, stakeholders and school systems are putting forth policies and programs in an effort to continue bridging the Digital Divide for our communities.”

To date, 27 schools in the Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD), Long Beach Unified (LBUSD), Inglewood Unified (IUSD), Riverside Unified (RUSD) and San Bernardino City Unified school districts participate in the School2Home program. School2Home provides comprehensive support to underserved schools through effective technology integration in teaching and learning and meaningful parent engagement.

If you, your students or family, or anybody you know needs access to low-cost devices and Internet service, please visitwww.everyoneon.org/uwgla.