The digital divide is the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and internet access and those who do not. In Los Angeles County, the digital divide has existed for decades with disproportionate impacts on households located in low-income areas and among populations that are predominantly Black and Latinx. United States Census data indicates that in Los Angeles County more than 182,000 households do not have a computer, nearly 365,000 households lack internet service, and 1.1 million households earn $50,000 or less per year.
In today’s society, a computer and reliable internet service are essential to accessing education, employment opportunities, healthcare services, financial resources, support networks, and commerce.
Delete The Divide is an initiative launched by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to empower youth and small businesses in underserved communities who are adversely impacted by the digital divide. The County has formed partnerships with public, private, academic, and community-based organizations to unify efforts in ensuring that disadvantaged communities have direct access, training, and support services in modern technologies.
These partnerships will provide youth with a wide range of educational programs, technical certifications, job shadowing, mentoring, corporate tours, paid internships, academic scholarships, and pathways to well-paying careers. Participants will also gain practical experience working on technology projects in their own neighborhoods, plus incentives and recognition awards. Small businesses will have opportunities for computer training, technology support, seminars, podcasts, networking, and assistance with expanding their online presence via websites, social media, and e-commerce.
“The world is increasingly moving online,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “Much of our news and information, opportunities and resources, are accessible online, and yet, so many of our residents and small businesses do not have access – especially those in Black and Latinx communities. The Delete The Divide initiative pulls all of the County’s services, and those of our partners, to provide a centralized resource for free opportunities in technology. I hope all of our residents take advantage of these benefits and engage in exciting opportunities.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that access to the critical information and services provided over high-speed internet is no longer a luxury,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, Second District. “Delete the Divide will strengthen collaborative efforts to reverse the inequities experienced by those left out of an increasingly digitized world.”
“Families, students, and small businesses must have access to reliable internet connectivity and computers in order to be competitive. While it is a relatively new standard, the impact of having a digital presence cannot be denied. If we are to live up to our commitments regarding equity in opportunity, we must delete the divide”, said Maria S. Salinas President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Los Angeles County Internal Services Department (ISD) is responsible for the development and administration of Delete The Divide. “Access to technology is important, but equally important is the ability to explore, pursue, and reap the benefits of the opportunities made possible through technology,” said Selwyn Hollins, ISD Director. “We are grateful to all of our partners for their strong support and commitment to providing critical resources. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in communities most impacted by the digital divide.”
For more information about Delete The Divide and to view interactive maps of impacted communities, visit www.DeleteTheDivide.org.