Closing California’s Digital Divide through Collective Action

1024 576 Deb Kollars

CA FWD’s policy work groups are created in consultation with members of the California Stewardship Network (CSN) through a process that identifies the issues that matter most to civic leaders throughout the state. Every year, each work group identifies a set of priorities that are critical to advancing the mission of the group and of CA FWD. These priorities are presented during a working session at the California Economic Summit and integrated into the Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, charting an agenda for collective action to ensure California’s economy works for everyone.

Reliable high-speed broadband is essential for people, businesses, and civic institutions to thrive in the modern world. Although conditions are improving, many Californians still lack this critical service.

As CA FWD’s California Dream Index shows, while nearly 90 percent of Californians now have access to broadband, disparities continue to exist, especially in remote rural areas and inner cities. For many homes and communities, broadband service is severely limited or nonexistent. And even where service is in place, it can be slow, unreliable or unaffordable for many. As the Public Policy Institute of California explained, “Broadband access has been expanding steadily, but significant gaps persist.”

In recent years, through collective action, the California Economic Summit’s Broadband for All work group has advanced solutions to address these inequities. Over the past two years,  encouraging steps to end the digital crisis have emerged at the state and federal levels, including historic legislation signed by Governor Newsom in 2021 to invest $6 billion in broadband infrastructure and new federal funding streams for infrastructure and adoption programs.

At the same time, local governments and organizations have forged partnerships and initiatives to expand broadband to families and communities. Regional broadband consortia, established throughout the state, are key implementers in these ongoing efforts, and key partners within the California Economic Summit.

During the 2022 California Economic Summit, the Broadband for All work group will continue building on this important work. In particular, participants will discuss ways to collectively advocate for effective implementation of state and federal broadband investments, as well as supporting the work of the Regional Broadband Consortia and other local and regional partners.

The work group is led by Trish Kelly, managing director of Valley Vision; Jason Schwenkler, executive director of North State Development and Planning Collective, CSU Chico; and Eduardo Gonzalez, interim executive director at the Office of Community and Economic Development, CSU Fresno.


Deb Kollars

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