How effective is the City's Digital Equity Program?
Item 11: Digital Equity Response Program at 6/15 City Council mtg
“The continuation of the digital Equity Response Program will address the immediate need of insufficient or total lack of digital access created in the wake of the pandemic by providing internet, computer equipment, and training to target individuals who lack adequate access and resources and whose need are unmet by existing resources and who historically face barriers to digital resources and knowledge” The pandemic exposed the importance of community members accessing the internet. Not only did children need internet and computer equipment for school, but the city also relied on the internet to get out vital information and resources. This need brought to fruition the digital equity response program. On August 18, 2020 the city council approved $750,000 of CARES act funding to the Digital Equity Response Program. The city manager negotiated a contract with United Way California Capital Region (UWCCR). The city paid for a contract to help give (discounted) internet and computer equipment to those in need. Most users came from district 5 or 8. CM Mai Vang noted that there isn’t a campaign to share that this service is available. While Mayor Darrell Steinberg considers this program a point of pride during the pandemic, the receipts aren’t as impressive:
$750,000 later, 700 households applied for the Comcast Internet Essential program, and only 17 households were about to register and receive service.
The motion passed giving the City Manager $200,000 per year for 3 years to continue to excuse a digital equity response agreement with UWCCR.
Check out our video here on the discussion: