Local Lawmakers Tackle Valley Internet Problems

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FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — As some communities experience a connection crisis, state and local leaders in health care, housing and education are taking action to bridge the digital divide in the Central Valley.

Assembly Member Dr Joaquin Arambula said: “It is important for us to recognize that the digital divide is real for many of our communities.

On Wednesday, the Fresno Coalition for Digital Inclusion, made up of dozens of community organizations, held its virtual town hall Solutions at the speed of broadband for all at Edison High School.

Leaders say that before the pandemic, 4% of jobs were remote, but now that number is 20% and growing.

As the pandemic has worsened inequalities like internet access, Arambula said they are changing that.

“We know we need to prioritize and invest in communities like ours that have historically been underfunded,” he said.

It’s a problem Superintendent Jim Yovino has said is critical in his 32 school districts.

“If our children in our valley don’t have access to it, the same equal access that all children in this valley have, then they’re behind,” Yovino said.

Digital access and inclusion are essential in all aspects of life.

Coreen Campos of United Way Fresno and Madera Counties said, “We know that digital access and connection is critical because when jobs, banking, education, all of those things happen online…even your tax return.

CalViva CEO Jeffrey Nkansah also chimed in. He said: “Having access, having powerful high-speed internet – allowing us to have better connectivity with our members will allow us as a health plan to continue to innovate and be able to provide them with better resources and health services.

While leaders highlighted their commitment to improving digital inclusion in Fresno County, Fresno Housing leaders said the next step is funding.

“We all agree on the need, but we have to agree with the legislature on how to fund the need,” said Fresno Housing CEO Tyrone Roderick Williams.

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