Introducing the 2021 Digital Inclusion Fellows
When I joined the very first cohort of Google Fiber Digital Inclusion Fellows back in 2015, I wanted to figure out how to make broadband internet more accessible for communities like the one I grew up in.
I was raised in the Rio Grande Valley, along the US-Mexico border, where the internet is often inaccessible, either because broadband service isn’t offered or it is too expensive. In fact, many cities in the Valley (including Harlingen, Pharr and Brownsville) still rank among the worst connected communities in the country. When we finally got the internet at home, it made a world of difference for me and my family. Suddenly, I could fill out college applications at home, I could research things and places that I had never heard of and -most importantly — I could begin the long process of building up digital skills that would last me a lifetime, and continue to play a central role in my work as a Community Impact Manager at Google Fiber today
When I applied to the program six years ago, I could not have imagined the impact that the Digital Inclusion Fellowship would have in the coming years. Nor could I have imagined how critical and important the work of digital navigators would become. Even before the pandemic, the demand for internet speed and capacity was growing, and there are still at least 21 million Americans without broadband internet at home (and this number may be much higher ). And while 2021 promises to be a banner year for broadband internet funding, breaking down barriers to digital equity will mean getting folks on the ground to create and implement robust digital inclusion programs.
That’s why I’m extremely proud to welcome the 7th cohort of Digital Inclusion Fellows — Google Fiber co-founded this program with NTEN to grow the community of digital literacy leaders, advocates and practitioners across the country. Since 2015, we’ve sponsored 75 Fellows across the country, working with local nonprofit organizations and institutions to create and manage digital inclusion programs. These programs range from improving access to the internet to multi-generational digital literacy initiatives.
Here’s the next generation of change makers who are devoting the next year to broadening digital equity in their communities:
We’re looking forward to watching these Fellows in action and supporting their critical work, as they drive digital equity in their communities. To learn more about the fellows and keep up with the latest on Google Fiber, follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds!
Posted by Daniel Lucio, Community Impact Manager