Nonprofit advocating for broadband equality for all Valley students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For over five years, the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium has advocated for broadband equality so families can access the internet, regardless of where they live.

"Then the pandemic came and it literally shed light to the point where everything we had been saying and what the research showed literally came to fruition," says Director Ben Duran.

That fueled the group even more to find a solution.

They created a video and sent it out to lawmakers and anyone else who could help make a difference for local students.

Duran says the lack of a strong broadband signal has been especially challenging for those living in rural communities.

"There will poles and wiring that literally stops because that is as far as those internet providers will go," he said.

Veronica Mendez from Madera is one of many students who rely on the internet outside of school.

She's currently a Fresno Pacific University student and also works in the fields, where her hotspot isn't always reliable.

"I knew that if my WiFi or hotspot didn't work, I was going to be missing class and it was very stressful," she said.

Mendez says while she made things work, for the most part, she feels for others who have faced even greater struggles.

"My peers had more challenges than I did, and I would be so happy if they could find that peace of mind," she said.

A goal Duran says can be reached if they continue shining a light on the reality of broadband disparity throughout the Central Valley.

"It's so important for us to convey to our legislators that the Central Valley is poised and ready to bring in this infrastructure and provide access to all," he said.

A project that would break a barrier for hundreds of students and set them up for success.
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