Local lawmakers tackle the Valley's internet problems

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

Brittany Jacob Image
Thursday, July 7, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

State and local leaders from healthcare, housing and education are taking action to address the digital divide in the Central Valley.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- While some communities are in a connection crisis, state and local leaders from healthcare, housing and education are taking action to address the digital divide in the Central Valley.

Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula said, "It's important for us to acknowledge that the digital divide is real for many of our communities."

On Wednesday, the Fresno Coalition for Digital Inclusion, consisting of dozens of community-based organizations, held their Solutions at the Speed of Broadband for All Virtual Town Hall at Edison High School.

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

While the pandemic has worsened inequities like internet access, Arambula said they are changing that.

"We know that we need to be prioritizing and investing into communities like ours who have historically been underresourced," he said.

This is an issue Superintendent Jim Yovino said is critical in his 32 school districts.

"If our kids in our Valley do not have access, the same equal access that every child in this Valley has, then they are behind," Yovino said.

Digital access and inclusion are key in every aspect of life.

Coreen Campos with United Way Fresno and Madera Counties said, "We know that digital access and getting connected is critical, because when jobs, banking, education, all of these things are done online...even filing for your taxes".

CalViva's CEO Jeffrey Nkansah also chimed in. He said, "Having access, having strong broadband internet - allowing us to be able to have better connectivity with our members will allow us as the health plan to continue to innovate and be able to provide them better resources and healthcare services."

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

"We all are in agreement about the need, but we must be in agreement with the legislature about how to fund the need," said Fresno Housing CEO Tyrone Roderick Williams.