WASHINGTON---One Economy Corporation, a global nonprofit that leverages the power of technology to improve the lives of low-income people, and the Broadband Opportunity Coalition (BBOC) will be implementing $51.5 million in broadband initiatives through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), it was announced today. Funding will bring affordable high-speed Internet access, digital literacy training, local online content and public purpose media, and sustained broadband adoption to families throughout the U.S.
One Economy and the BBOC were awarded $28.5 million in federal stimulus from the National Telecommunications and information Administration (NTIA)’s BTOP program. Through partnerships with AT&T, Comcast, National Association of Broadcasters, Cisco, Google, CTIA—the Wireless Association, and others, One Economy and the BBOC are supplementing the stimulus award with private sector matching support valued at $23 million.The BBOC is an historic alliance of civil rights organizations that have joined with One Economy to expand broadband adoption in underserved communities. The BBOC includes National Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) provides research support for the BBOC, and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) provides legal, policy, and PSA placement support to the BBOC.
With the federal funding and corporate matches, One Economy and the BBOC will increase current work and collaborate with 159 housing developments to bring subsidized broadband connections to 27,000 affordable housing units. A national awareness campaign to promote digital literacy will reach 20 million people. Through One Economy’s seven-year-old Digital Connectors program, a digital mentoring and volunteer program for at-risk youth aged 14-21, 235,000 people will receive training with the launch of 167 Digital Connector programs in at least 80 communities throughout the country.
“There are three barriers to Internet use: accessibility, affordability, and lack of relevant content,” said Moustafa Mourad, interim president and CEO of One Economy. “One Economy and the BBOC will continue to work with our corporate and community partners to break down the barriers with innovative and proven initiatives that ensure all people—regardless of background, income, or literacy level—can reap the social and economic benefits of information and technology.”
Forty percent of Americans do not use high-speed access at home, a 2010 NTIA study reports. The overwhelming majority is low-income and/or people of color: 54 percent of African Americans and 60 percent of Latinos have not adopted at-home broadband.
According to One Economy, simply bringing broadband wires into homes is not enough. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that 50 percent of Americans without at-home broadband believe that the Internet is not relevant to their lives. To increase relevancy, One Economy will expand its public purpose media—online content that engages, informs, and facilitates action—to connect individuals to vital job, health, finance, and educational resources.
In 2009 Congress authorized $7.2 billion with the American Reinvestment and Recovery program to support the development of a broadband infrastructure. One Economy and the BBOC’s grant is part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) BTOP program, which was developed to stimulate long-term economic growth.
“Ten years ago, One Economy had a dream to put 21st century technology into the hands of every single American, regardless of income, so that they could change their lives for the better,” said Rey Ramsey, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, One Economy Corporation. “Today, thanks to President Obama, the Recovery Act and this historic coalition, we are that much closer to making that dream a reality.”
”Access to the Internet means access to information, and information leads to opportunity,” said Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League. “By expanding broadband Internet access, we're helping people become healthier, better educated, and more stable financially. Broadband access is crucial to a person's ability to compete in the 21st century economy.”
“Empowering our communities means providing them with the best tools we have to offer,” said Hilary O. Shelton, Washington Bureau Director and Vice President for Advocacy for the NAACP. “We are extending and expanding technology to reach our constituents, meeting them where they are in life, and creating lasting networks that will ensure economic success into the future.”
“Together, the BBOC and One Economy are fortifying our communities with knowledge and resources they need to improve their lives,” said Janet Murguia, National Council of La Raza President and CEO. “Our Coalition’s focus on youth and engagement with community-based nonprofits will ensure that our initiatives reach out to those who need it the most.”
“Minorities, seniors, low-income families and those with limited English skills disproportionately lack ready access to high-speed Internet connections,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. “Without access, the divide between those who can access vital information and therefore, jobs and our economy, and those who cannot will only grow. With this stimulus award, we can ensure these communities will not fall further behind and lose out in the digital age.”
“Digital literacy is an increasingly crucial component of civic literacy,” said Brent A. Wilkes, League of United Latin American Citizens National Executive Director. “Our digital training initiatives leverage the multiplier effect to proliferate digital skills. Digital Connectors are equipped with life-long skills, and our communities are uplifted from the inside out.”
“This important grant will help the BBOC show people who aren’t yet comfortable online what a tremendous resource it can be,” said David Honig, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council President and Executive Director. “We will all be implementing a national awareness campaign to reach millions throughout the U.S. about how instrumental the Internet can be in transforming one’s life. And more than inspiration, we provide the tools to actually get them there.”
“We’re proud to serve as an adviser to the BBOC and to provide the research and evaluation for the BBOC’s stimulus initiatives,” said Ralph B. Everett, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies President and CEO. “What makes expanding broadband Internet access and adoption such a good investment is not only that it will create jobs today, but it will also serve our communities far into the future by equipping new adopters with the tools and skills to prosper throughout their lives.”
About One Economy
One Economy Corporation is a global nonprofit that uses innovative approaches to deliver the power of technology and information to unserved and underserved populations. One Economy builds digital inclusion programs to expand broadband into low-income areas and deliver free or low-cost Internet access and affordable computers. To date, One Economy has brought affordable broadband to more than 375,000 Americans. The organization also trains youth to increase digital awareness in their communities. More than 3,000 youth have contributed over 77,000 hours of service to improve digital literacy through Digital Connectors. And, 19 million people have accessed One Economy’s online resources. For more information visit: www.one-economy.com.
About the Broadband Opportunity Coalition (BBOC)
The Broadband Opportunity Coalition (BBOC) is an historic alliance of civil rights organizations joined together to overcome barriers to adoption of technology in communities of color. BBOC members include the National Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) and the Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies serve as advisors to the BBOC.