Increasing Access to WiFi and Technology for Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color

On April 22, 2020, we published a research brief entitled “Bridging LA’s Digital Divide: Increasing Access to WiFi and Technology for Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color,” which highlights the lack of digital devices and internet access in low-income communities like Watts, South LA, and Boyle Heights. Media outlets including the Los Angeles Times and LAist published stories featuring our findings as well.

A lot of good work is happening to ensure that low-income students make the transition to distance learning swiftly and seamlessly. We applaud LA Unified for moving quickly to do all it can to get computers, tablets and hotspots into the hands of students who need technology most, especially those who live in the communities served by the Partnership.

We are grateful to see technology companies and large internet providers promise to help bridge the digital divide for students and families in Los Angeles’s highest-need communities. And now that learning has moved into homes, the need for high-speed internet is even more critical and urgent so that students can participate in online meetings and Google classrooms essential to distance learning.

Unfortunately, we heard from our families in Watts, South LA and Boyle Heights that significant barriers exist when they try to access “free” offers from internet service providers, including limited or no service in their zip codes, mandatory deposits, installation fees, and pricey long-term contracts. We also found WiFi service to Watts residents was extremely limited; the community suffers from some of the lowest access to WiFi in Los Angeles County.

Our equity alert provides details about what staff and families (monolingual and bilingual) experienced first hand as they attempted to take advantage of offers from the nation’s largest internet providers. You can find our full report, including details from our Partnership survey of more than 1,000 families who provided insight into the extent of the digital divide below:

Download our infographics and tag @PartnershipLA when you share on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.