Working to Bridge the Digital Divide

High-Speed internet access is particularly important for low-income families who benefit from the many applications of high speed internet.  Broadband allows them to access previously unavailable information and methods of communication.

The efforts of groups like One Economy Corporation and Mount Hope Housing Company are helping to bring broadband access to low-income families and are witnessing the profound impact of high speed.  One Economy has programs to provide technical knowledge and training, along with access and hardware.  These programs have demonstrated how people are able to improve their schoolwork, take online classes, start businesses and apply for jobs.  Mount Hope has been working to get broadband access in housing developments in New York City by encouraging companies like Verizon to provide service.

Interviews of participants in One Economy's programs demonstrate the many advantages of high speed internet. "Participants in San Jose and Miami credited Internet access with helping them keep up with life in their home countries through newspapers, news broadcasts and music; stay in touch with far-flung family members through e-mail, online chat or webcam; navigate government bureaucracies; and keep their children away from drugs and gangs. Others had become more involved in community, school or business activities as a result of gaining Internet access, and some had become more politically active or better able to advocate for themselves and others." 

One Economy's efforts have shown that broadband access provides low income families with material gains and also psychological benefits.  Participants report feeling more capable and less disadvantaged, as people overcame depression and children felt more comfortable in school. 

However, One Economy runs into the problem of a limited broadband access in many low-income neighborhoods.  They have been trying to increase availability by encouraging funding programs run by other organizations to help build high speed connections and lobbying state governments to create incentives for ISP's to build the necessary infrastructure.  Mount Hope has been successful in getting Verizon to provide service in their buildings and helps residents pay for the service, while educating and training them.

Overcoming the digital divide and bringing high speed internet to low income communities is vital in building the economy and social structure through improvements in education, healthcare and communication.  Programs, like One Economy, display how important broadband access is in the 21st century and how low-income families particularly benefit.  Through the concerted co-operative effort of organizations, telecom providers and state governments the digital divide can become a thing of the past. Broadband Access Empowers Low-Income Families