United Ways Get Connected

United Way of California (UWCA, fiscal sponsor), 2-1-1 California (2-1-1-CA, Lead), Radio Bilingüe (RB) and the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) proposed to increase Latinos’ access to broadband at home and improve their ability to access low-cost computer, broadband and digital literacy resources. The partners know that low-income Latinos and language minority groups, when aware of the benefits, DO want to be connected to computers and Internet-related resources — but cost and availability are the main barriers.

211s assist a broad cross-section of working-poor and underserved communities to access resources with the aim of preventing an escalation of further needs and improving their well-being. As access to resources, and individual and family wel- being, become heavily inter-dependent on having Internet at home, broadband adoption becomes critical to the overall 2-1-1 endeavor.

UWCA’s work to improve health, education, and income attainability similarly recognizes that without access to the Internet many of California’s families will be unable to access health care and health insurance, maximize educational opportunities, and take advantage of economic opportunities.

Radio Bilingüe was founded to ensure Latinos have access to the public airwaves to empower our community and other marginalized groups. Over 33 years, having built and sustained 12 non-commercial radio stations in the Southwest, a national Spanish-language news, information and 24-hour satellite programming service, they are experts in communications technology issues and committed to ensuring low-income Latinos not only have access but are part of the dialogue about access.

And, as a leading mover for fairness and equity for Latinos in the media, NHMC’s four top policy priorities include promotion of universal and affordable connections.

Radio and television educational messages, public service announcements and other programming — either produced by and aired on RB’s Latino public radio stations or on commercial Spanish TV and radio networks through in-kind agreements secured by NHMC – will educate audiences on the importance and benefits of having access to broadband at home and using the Internet. EVERY broadcast message and program will guide listeners to call 2-1-1 CA for assessment of needs and connection to local low-cost broadband, computer, and training resources. 2-1-1-CA will not only screen callers responding to the media outreach but ALL of their callers in order to assess need and interest in being connected to low-cost Internet options to improve their lives. Low-cost broadband partners will be identified and monitored for each region targeted. 2-1-1s will continue this work after the grant is completed by offering this suite of services to callers seeking information about a computer, the Internet, or any service best accessed via the Internet, e.g., homework help, Covered California and job searches. The project expected to encourage 8,750 households to subscribe to broadband for the first time. This goal was later reduced to 7,136 which the project exceeded.

Priority counties were Fresno, Kern, Tulare, Stanislaus, Los Angeles, Orange, Monterey, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Riverside and San Bernardino.