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This summer, Google Fiber celebrates the 10th anniversary of opening sign-ups in our first market, my hometown of Kansas City. The first few months after launch were intense and rewarding, humbling and inspiring. One of the greatest takeaways from that period - and demonstrated countless more times over the years - is that the most effective digital equity work happens collaboratively, when people who know their communities best are empowered to make a difference. 


The Digital Inclusion Fellowship, a program we co-founded with NTEN,  is one way that we’ve demonstrated the impact of this type of collaboration. Since 2015, 78 digital literacy leaders, advocates and practitioners from nonprofit organizations and municipal agencies across the country have been sponsored by Google Fiber. Through training and planning support that is delivered to these cohorts, these changemakers have created and managed projects ranging from improving access to the internet to multi-generational digital literacy initiatives. 


Because I have seen firsthand the impact this program can have on communities, it is my privilege to welcome the eighth cohort of Digital Inclusion Fellows, who are dedicated to broadening digital equity in their communities over the next year. This year’s Google Fiber sponsored fellows for 2022 include:


Atlanta, GA  Stacy Rozier, Goodwill of North Georgia

Austin, TX  Dan Reddi, Austin Public Library

Charlotte, NC  Natali Betancur, The Center for Digital Equity, and Chantez Neymoss, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Kansas City, MO  Erika Garcia Reyes, Revolución Educativa

Provo, UT  Baylee Swanson, United Way of Utah County

Salt Lake County, UT  Hoang Ha, Spy Hop Productions, and Jaleen Johnson, Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN)/Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center (NRTRC)

San Antonio, TX  Dallana Camargo, Empower House SA


As Fellow Chantez Neymoss said, “Digital inclusion is important to me because of how transformational it can be in someone’s life. Expanding this access opens up new opportunities for employment, small businesses, connecting with family, education, and more. Digital skills and tools should be an opportunity for expansion, not a barrier.”


During the fellowship and beyond, we know this commitment to collaboration will open up new opportunities with the hope that it will bring their communities closer to meeting their larger social, economic and civic needs. We wish this new cohort great success!


Posted by Rachel Merlo, Head of Government and Community Affairs - Central Region | Orange County, CA


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Google Fiber works with organizations across the country to help address digital equity issues in our communities. We love to share their stories on the Google Fiber blog and hear about the impact of their amazing work from the people they serve. 

 

About the program:


Digi-Bridge and Google Fiber have teamed up to launch free virtual STEAM Lab programs designed to engage underserved 4th through 8th graders in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus Counties (including Charlotte and Concord) in a hands-on exploration of technology in the arts, coding, gaming and design engineering.


STEAM Lab arrived after Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reported a significant decrease in Science EOG scores in 5th and 8th grade from 2019 to 2021. STEAM Lab provides an engaging learning experience hands-on, yet virtual experience for partner school students by pairing personal learning kits of materials with virtual instruction led by the student's teachers. This additional learning time for students is an effort to promote academic exploration and increased testing scores.


Today, we’re spotlighting a STEAM Lab student, I.T., who has been participating in two courses with Digi-Bridge’s Virtual STEAM Lab — the Design Engineering Process, where students learn the fundamentals of building using geometric concepts, and Art & Tech, where students learn about foundational graphic design skills, such as pixel art and stop-motion animation. Check out his experience below!  

 

Meet I.T.:

 

 

Hello, My name is Isaiah “I.T.” Twyman and I am a 5th grade student at Druid Hills Academy in Digi-Bridge’s Virtual STEAM Lab sponsored by Google Fiber. I’m 11 years old and enjoy playing video games, coding and soccer after school. 

I live off in Northwest Charlotte. I like it, but I really like being near my grandparents in Mallard Creek. My grandfather lives in a house and teaches me a lot of hands-on things, like how to plug tires, how to work with circuits and how to stop and enjoy life! We love going on walks. Also, during the program he helped with my circuit greeting card project. 

Those are all the things that I like. Also, if you didn’t know, my dream is to recreate Jurassic Park! STEAM Lab is cool because I like creating new stuff all the time! For example, a zip line or playing with electric circuits or anything related to video games. 

I really enjoyed the Pixel Art. I'm into coding and Digi-Bridge made it easy to understand. I love trying to code and make video games. I actually like to create games in my free time!

Here’s what a regular morning in Virtual STEAM Lab looks like for me:

 

6:00- I brush my teeth and wash my face. If I have time, I play my game and just chill out. 

8:00-8:45- I will eat a breakfast that I can make, like a Cheese sandwich and a glass of milk. 

8:45- Set-up for my classroom in the kitchen. We sit separately from my sister. 

9:00- I greet my teachers Ms. Nicole and Mr. Moats. Then, we start off by sharing our emotions so the teacher knows how we are doing. 

9:15- Then Ms. Nicole tells us that we will get started. They sometimes show us a video and tell us what to do

10:00- Show the teacher what we did. We will code on SCRATCH if we finish early. 

11:00- Start cleaning up after finishing. We send a picture to Ms. Nicole and then we can eat part of the project if it’s edible! 

 

Thank you for reading as I shared my morning as a DIGI-Bridge Virtual STEAM student. Have a good day! 

 

Posted by Isaiah “I.T.” Twyman, 5th grade student at Druid Hills Academy





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Google Fiber is proud to host guest blogger Stephanie Espy, the author of STEM Gems and the founder of the conference of the same name. As a chemical engineer, Stephanie understands the challenges facing women in science and technology. As a sponsor of this year’s conference, Google Fiber continues to look for new ways to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM.


Think back to your preteen/teen self. What were your career interests, and why? What inspired you? Who inspired you? Was it a teacher or family member? Was it a summer camp experience? Was it something you saw in a movie or tv show or read in a book or magazine?

Women remain underrepresented in STEM fields. Cybersecurity, engineering, computing, data science, and physical sciences are just a few examples of careers where women represent less than a quarter of jobs, in some areas even single digit percentages. If we want to see more girls choosing STEM, it is our responsibility to inspire them early and often.

The STEM Gems movement is centered on girls and was designed based on my life experiences. As a girl who was stimulated by math and science, I wish I had an organization like STEM Gems to inspire my exploration of STEM careers, introduce me to women in STEM role models, and demonstrate how a STEM career can make a difference in the world and help people. 

I started this movement by writing the STEM Gems book, and our programming now includes the STEM Gems Club, Summit, summer camp, and social media campaign. Each component exposes and supports girls with the goal of expanding their STEM fluency and helping them break through stereotypes and build confidence.  

All too often, girls are not exposed to STEM careers or encouraged to develop the skills necessary to pursue STEM careers. STEM Gems places them at the center of what is possible. I know how critical it is to help girls create their unique STEM footprint as I was able to persist throughout middle and high school, study chemical engineering at MIT and UC Berkeley, and become one of the 3% of underrepresented women of color to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering. The vision for STEM Gems is to strengthen the pipeline and help to provide the support and structure necessary for girls to see themselves as researchers, innovators, creators, and problem solvers. 

The STEM Gems Summit: Women Empowering Girls is one way in which girls are inspired to choose STEM careers. The Summit brings together girls and young women, parents, educators, and mentors and introduces them to professional women in a diversity of STEM careers underrepresented by women. The Summit opens with each speaker doing a short “pitch” of their respective STEM career to attendees. The women then share what inspired them to choose their STEM career, their journey to where they are now, how they make a difference in the world using STEM, and advice for girls to create their unique STEM footprint in the world.



The 2022 STEM Gems Summit: Women Empowering Girls presented by AWS is co-sponsored by Google Fiber. Our sponsors have enabled us to increase our impact and dream big, reaching girls, parents, and educators across the country in both rural and urban cities. This year’s Summit will be held virtually on Saturday, March 19 at 11am EST / 8am PST. All are encouraged to attend and be inspired by an amazing group of women using STEM to better the world! Register today! (And you can follow STEM Gems on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.)

Posted by Stephanie Espy, author of STEM Gems, founder of STEM Gems and MathSP





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Google Fiber works with incredible partners across the country working to make digital equity a reality in our communities. Back in 2019, we shared the innovative work of Libraries Without Borders US (LWB US) in San Antonio, TX, and now we’re thrilled to welcome Victoria Becker, Communications and Engagement Associate, to provide an update on those efforts through the pandemic and beyond. LWB US is a non-profit organization that delivers access to information, education, and cultural resources. From parks in Baltimore to laundromats in San Antonio, LWB US designs innovative tools and programs that meet people where they are with the resources they need most. 


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Libraries Without Borders US (LWB US) has been working to promote access to information in underserved communities across the country since 2015. Fundamental to our work is designing and implementing innovative programs that reimagine libraries, often by transforming nontraditional spaces into hubs for community learning and engagement. With this mission in mind, we took our work to the laundromat, prompting the birth of the Wash and Learn Initiative (WALI).

Why laundromats? The average laundromat user has an income of $28,000; 1 in 4 individuals in this income bracket do not have access to broadband internet. By partnering with local libraries and organizations, LWB US brings not only books, computers, and internet connection directly to laundromats, but also digital skills trainings and curated resources that promote literacy, digital access, health education, legal information, and other issues. In doing this, LWB US could ensure that community members had easy access to critical resources, all while doing their weekly wash.

In March 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we completely reimagined our work and shifted gears in response to swiftly growing needs. We designed and implemented the ConnectED Technology Kit program: an initiative to provide our constituents with a backpack equipped with a laptop, mobile hotspot, and a curated educational resource packet to be used at home. Last year, LWB US distributed over 120 kits to families in San Antonio outside Wash and Learn Initiative laundromats, including our newest WALI laundromat Laundry Rey’s.



We’re building on the work we did last year outside by bringing programming back inside. LWB US recently reinstalled the bookshelf at Laundry Rey’s, the first hint of WALI reinstall. With the support of Google Fiber, we are able to safely reimplement programming in our San Antonio WALI laundromats to continue to serve our community. Check out the video below see this incredible program up close and hear from our staff and stakeholders:

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For more information about WALI or LWB in San Antonio, contact Lisa Alvarenga, our San Antonio Project Coordinator.

Posted by Victoria Becker, Communications and Engagement Associate, Libraries without Borders - US.





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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








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Google Fiber has always focused on helping communities take on the very real digital equity challenges they grapple with every day. We’ve been lucky to partner with some incredible organizations over the past decade, working to make each of our Fiber cities more digitally inclusive places. The past year has magnified the importance of these efforts, with the pandemic and the related changes to our daily lives having an outsized impact on disadvantaged communities.  



PCs for the People in Kansas City



As Google Fiber worked to adapt to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we realized many of our local non-profit partners, and the people they serve, were working overtime to do the same. So we adjusted our approach over the last year to help those organizations serve their communities’ most immediate needs, whether that was internet access for learning or work, devices to get online, unemployment, or food insecurity

Given the enormous challenges of 2020, Google Fiber increased our community impact investments across the country. As we do every year, we recently surveyed our non-profit partners about their experience and their impact. We’re so inspired by what they were able to achieve in the face of the incredible adversity during 2020:

  • Over 250,000 people participated in programming funded by Google Fiber 
  • Even with the challenges of the pandemic, partners provided 124,000 hours of digital literacy training both virtually and in person, and prepared more than 3,000 new volunteer trainers to pay this work forward
  • Partners distributed over 8,500 devices to help people get online
  • More than 700 job seekers gained employment through funded programming
  • Entrepreneurship programs led to 43 new businesses
  • More than 6,000 people connected new internet service in their homes




Libraries without Borders in San Antonio



Additionally, we supported organizations focused on racial justice and equity at a new level this year to help many of our communities bridge not just the digital divide, but the other issues that divide our communities. A little bit more about who our partners serve:

  • 92% work with underrepresented groups
  • 79% work with children or seniors
  • 52% work with the LGBTQ+ community
  • 51% work with individuals with disabilities
  • 36% work with veterans
  • 31% work with previously incarcerated individuals



Goodwill of Western Missouri & Eastern Kansas



Every day, these groups are making change happen in our communities, creating a more equitable, just, and connected place that will create a lasting and exponential difference to our cities and our world. Thank you to all our partners! 



Posted by Rachel Merlo, Government & Community Affairs Manager, Kansas City



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Since the first cohort of NTEN’s Digital Inclusion Fellowship in 2015, Google Fiber has supported this innovative program which supports nonprofit professionals with deep connections to digitally distressed communities in their efforts to launch or expand digital inclusion  programs. As a former fellow with Austin Free-Net, I’ve seen firsthand the impact that a focused staff member can have on connecting more people to the skills and resources people need to navigate our digital world. 

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The pandemic has emphasized the necessity of access to fast, reliable internet. Organizations that once considered digital equity and literacy tangential to their mission now find it essential to helping the communities they serve. 

Stephanie De Leon, our Digital Inclusion Fellow with AVANCE-Austin, shared, “I can proudly say that all 240 families served in the AVANCE-Austin Parent-Child Education Program received brand new tablets with internet connectivity and resources plus 1-on-1 training on how to use them to help close the gap in digital inequity.”

Over the past six years, Google Fiber has funded 59 fellows across the country, and these extraordinary individuals and organizations are making a huge difference in the everyday lives of their constituents. 

Kayla Bradshaw, a fellow with the United Way of Utah County in Provo, Utah, said: “Typically, we hold in-person trainings for our volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) program. Most of our volunteers are elderly and do not want to meet in person. We developed an online training distributed through YouTube to train all volunteers. The volunteers then receive technical support through the tax season as they assist low-income families in filing their taxes.”

Think a staff member in your organization could benefit from being a Digital Inclusion Fellow? Applications are open now for the next cohort (lucky number 7!). We hope you’ll consider joining the group, or pass this on to an organization that needs their own fellow. 

Posted by Daniel Lucio, Community Impact Manager





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It’s been nearly a year since many businesses and schools began working from home because of the COVID pandemic. And while many of us have learned new ways to use technology and the internet to keep in touch (while staying apart), many families are still facing challenges accessing the resources and tools they need to work or study online. Digital inclusion is key to creating a more equitable world, and Google Fiber continues to work with organizations across the country to address this challenge.

Since 2016, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s (NDIA) has hosted the Net Inclusion Conference annually, bringing together digital inclusion practitioners, advocates, academics, businesses, and policymakers to share their knowledge and learn from one another. This conference has been a consistent catalyst for innovation and best practices across the digital inclusion community, and Google Fiber is proud to support Net Inclusion again this year. This time the conference will feature a new virtual format over a series of weeks rather than concentrated into just a few days, which will allow even more people to participate.

The 2021 Net Inclusion Conference series includes eight one-hour webinars, every Wednesday from April 7th through May 26th. These webinars are open to any and all advocates, policy makers, academics and boots-on-the-ground folks who want to learn more and help expand the conversation around digital inclusion. We hope some of you’ll join us! If you are interested, register here.

Posted by Daniel Lucio, Community Impact Manager





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At Google Fiber, we’re always excited to see how our customers put our gigabit internet to work for them. Throughout 2021 we’ll be featuring customers from across the country who represent the amazing endeavors of those who see the opportunity of the internet and are using it every day to make the world better, more interesting, kinder, and more just. 

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“Why can’t we harness the marketplace to prompt thoughtfulness and push back the tide of social injustice in America?”

This is the problem I saw and my purposeful lifestyle company Civic Saint is a part of the solution. I designed my inaugural collection of accessories and apparel to uplift those advancing the Black Lives Matter, Equal Rights, and Voter Rights movements. Customers’ purchases also perpetuate the push for equity in America through donations to appropriate organizations. 

The idea for Civic Saint came to me while I was completing treatment for head and neck cancer at the University of Kansas Medical Center in January of 2020, but it all came to a head during this summer’s unrest. As a Black, gay man, I was tired of waiting for change to come; and it became clear to me that I was not alone.

My aspiration for Civic Saint is to not only create a company that promotes an affirming, inclusive society through thoughtful products and partnerships, but also one that prompts reflection and conversation about each of the movements our inaugural collection honors. Additionally, Civic Saint is a social enterprise that advances systemic change by donating a portion of its profits to organizations that fight for racial and social equity, including The Equal Justice Initiative, The Bail Project, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Troost Market Collective. Civic Saint’s mission and impact align with principles my late parents, Cecil and Goldie, instilled in me and demonstrated throughout their lifetimes as public servants and individuals. 

In creating my products, I’m also partnering with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color for my core services from Black, female-owned She Prints It in Atlanta, Georgia to Black, nonbinary Kansas City creative Fawn Lies to woman-owned AlphaGraphics as well as allies like Nick Ward-Bopp who co-founded Maker Village. The path to change includes being intentional in who you choose to do business with regardless of the size of your business — asking whether your choices reinforce economic disenfranchisement or uplift a multifaceted cadre of service providers and people.

From inception, Google Fiber and Google Business Solutions have underpinned the construction of my dream to start a business. From Google Fiber gigabit internet service to domain and email hosting to designing on my Google Pixelbook to payment processing, and so much more. Google’s suite of products and services have allowed me to establish a meaningful, professional company about which I can be proud and to do it quickly.

I believe right now has the potential to be as pivotal a time as the 1964 Freedom Summer, but only if we can drop the divides and remember our shared humanity and equal rights. In short, the call to do more to create a just, equitable society is upon all of us and we must answer it now.

To learn more about Civic Saint and shop our continually expanding collection, visit www.CivicSaint.com or follow us @CivicSaint on Instagram and Facebook.

Posted by Godfrey Riddle, Founder & President of Civic Saint






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Many students have been navigating virtual learning since last spring. Google Fiber has partnered with organizations and school districts in our cities to help make it easier for students and their families to connect and continue their learning journeys, whatever form that may take. Today, we’re excited to share a guest post from Malena Juarez, a senior at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, who attends the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy Virtual Learning Program. The Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy is one of our Google Fiber Community Connections, which provides gigabit internet to the organization at no cost.




When I first came to the Academy, I was amazed by the sight of the facility and the huge softball field and baseball fields. It was a dream come true. To me, the Urban Youth Academy is a place of opportunity and growth. It has now become my second home. The UYA will forever have impacted my life positively, giving me a place to grow as a softball player and as a person in my community. The wonderful people I’ve met there have always been such great role models, who only wanted to see me succeed. 

I started playing softball when I was 10 years old, but had no idea what softball really was. But, as the years went by, softball then became my life. Moving to Lincoln Prep, I found out there was no team. It was always hard not being able to play the sport you love going into high school. During my junior year, the UYA helped tremendously by allowing our softball team to use their field and equipment to practice and play our games. I was finally able to play the game I love at the place I love. It meant so much to me and was very influential to me; I wanted to give back to my community just as the UYA did. 

Being a senior during this very interesting year of 2020 has been very difficult for me. As the oldest of three kids at home trying to manage everything being virtual, I felt very overwhelmed from making sure lunch was made at a certain time and homework was being done, to answering what felt was a million questions about school from my sisters and brothers. I always believed my senior year was going to be very stress-free, but with our current situation, it has been the exact opposite. 

Just as I was feeling it was all too much, I received a text message explaining what seemed to be a cool program —  the Virtual Learning Program at the UYA. The program currently has 50 high school students enrolled from 17 different schools in the KC area. It runs Monday-Friday, usually from 7 am-4 pm which allows us to complete our schoolwork and participate in baseball and softball workouts each day. 

At first, I thought it probably wouldn’t work out for me to attend, because where would my younger siblings go? That’s when I had a conversation with the Director of the Virtual Learning Program explaining the circumstances. Thankfully, they worked with me, and now my younger brother attends the program as well. So now, there is no worry about missing school to make lunch, and I’m only answering one question here and there! The only focus I have is school, and it is easier to do the best that I can. 

Coming to the UYA for the Virtual Program, Google Fiber’s high speed internet has been a tremendous help to me and my siblings. We are now able to go throughout the day with no problems with our connection. We can now focus on our school work.. It means a lot and has taken a great deal of stress off our shoulders. 

I just wanted to say a great big thank you to the Urban Youth Academy, the Virtual Program, and Google Fiber for being a great help to me. It has made such a huge impact on me and others. You have made me feel important and valued, and I could not thank you enough. 

Posted by Malena Juarez, Senior at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy 








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Charlotte-based muralist Rosalia Torres-Weiner believes art can sustain us during difficult times. As a self-titled “Artivist,”  Rosalia seeks to find creative ways to use art to bring people together, advance justice and equity, and inspire more good in the world.

In October, Rosalia created her response to COVID-19 called “Art Essentials,” which is part scavenger hunt, part public art project and part emergency relief. Rosalia created and hung 100 pieces of her original art in public places like bus stops, laundromats, apartment complexes throughout Charlotte’s Latinx neighborhoods. Folks who found the art discovered another surprise: a message on the back letting them know the painting also served as a voucher for a bag of essential items, including hand soap, hand sanitizer, face masks, and a $50 grocery card at local Compare Foods grocery store….and they get to keep the art!

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After a few weeks, all of the art has been collected and 89 of the Art Essentials bags have been redeemed. The rest of the bags of supplies have been donated to the families at Charlotte Bilingual Preschool. Families who discovered the art were thrilled to get both an original painting and assistance with grocery basics at a time when inspiration and help are needed most.

Google Fiber is proud to support Art Essentials, along with a HUG micro-grant from Charlotte is Creative and support from Compare Foods. We continue to partner with local organizations focused on connecting our communities for good.

Posted by Jess George, Government & Community Affairs Manager, North Carolina





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I’m excited to announce that this fall, the Austin based LGBTQIA+ focused non-profit OutYouth became the latest Google Fiber Community Connection in Austin. As a queer, trans Texan who has been involved with OutYouth since 2015, I’ve heard countless stories from friends who found support when they needed it most through their programs. Most recently, I’ve personally seen how OutYouth’s Queer and Trans Commmunity Closet has made it possible for friends impacted by COVID-19 to get items they need.

Google Fiber’s Community Connections program brings free high speed Internet to libraries, community centers and nonprofit organizations in our Fiber cities. OutYouth is the 34th Community Connection in Austin to receive this high speed service.

Since 1990, OutYouth has provided programs, services, and partnerships which provide LGBTQ+ youth and their allies with opportunities to develop positive self-esteem, identify and cultivate peer support networks, and prepare for a successful adulthood.

As a community connection recipient, OutYouth’s Austin location - affectionately known as the little blue bungalow - will receive gigabit speed internet at no cost to help serve their mission and meet the needs of their clients.

Check out the video of my chat with Kathryn Gonzales, director of OutYouth, to learn more about how they’re connecting with the community during social distancing and how they hope to use their new Google Fiber Community Connection in the future.

Learn more from OutYouth here and get information on how you can support their GLITZ: 30th Anniversary Virtual Celebration, premiering on YouTube on November 7.

Posted by Danny Cleveland, Customer Service Program Manager (Austin, TX) & Pride@Fiber ERG member




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This week is Digital Inclusion Week! While we celebrate the incredible efforts of our partners across the country to make their communities more digitally inclusive and connected every day, we’re also taking this opportunity to share the stories of the people they’ve helped during 2020, with all the challenges this year has presented.


From making music to helping people navigate the digital world, we’re grateful to all the people out there working to advance digital equity in their communities. Thank you and let’s keep it going, all 52 weeks of the year!






For more information about the partners highlighted in the video check out Music Empowerment, E2D, and PCs for People.





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This post is the third installment of our Pursuing Racial Justice and Equity series, which highlights the courageous and vital work happening across our Google Fiber and Google Fiber Webpass cities to fight systemic racism and create more just communities where everyone has the opportunity and the ability to thrive.

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The Austin Justice Coalition’s (AJC) roots were planted in 2015 when a bunch of people who were crazy enough to believe that we could change the world got together and we have never looked back.

Black and brown people operate daily in a system where their voices and lives are undervalued. They are inundated with unwarranted and blatant oppression, life-threatening situations, microaggressions, and other forms of racism due to the color of their skin. AJC is a grassroots organization that addresses the oppressive dynamics of institutional racism and its effects on adults, youth, and communities of color.

We transform systems and society by building community power through policy and advocacy. Through our efforts, we have improved laws and policies where we live in regards to criminal justice and building complete communities to address the housing and homelessness crisis. Additionally, we have supported and guided young people of color to be thoughtful, unbiased leaders. We try not to do it all, but over the last 5 years, we have built an ever-evolving ecosystem of solutions, knowledge, experience, and community.

Unfortunately, there is still so much to be done.

It is not that our ideas are revolutionary. We lead the charge and keep others marching with us without allowing differences to divide us. In our work, you see a cadre of white allies. If we don’t change the hearts/minds of those whose ancestors implemented the hierarchy of race, we will never truly gain reform.

There is truly something for everyone to contribute to the movement.

Since March, there has been change in a real way, and we are thankful for the many partners who have increased their engagement in our communities such as Google Fiber. Because in reality, the biggest hurdle for communities of color is getting a seat at the table.

We have been able to create a seat by listening to the community and being unafraid to be their advocate. Similarly, we created Higher Learning, with little funding, because we had a vision of a program curated specifically for Black and Brown kids that tackles the inefficiencies of our school system. We have made it to year 3 of this program.

Our hope is that the data and statistics will change in the number of people of color in jail, their ability in housing ownership, and increase rates of education attainment and professional achievement, not only in Austin, but across the country. When we see this, we are able to turn our attention to changing and transforming more systems. Often our work can seem narrow, but for us, the work we are doing can truly shift and break up what seems like indestructible systems. Our work will and can have a ripple effect. Our long-term vision is to one day dream of taking our work on a global scale. But before we can do that, our team will have to uproot the deep seeded effects of the 1928 zoning laws and racism of Austin, while tackling Texas, and America.

So when we are truly successful here, there will be more work on the horizon for us. Join us.

Posted by Chas Moore, Executive Director, AJC




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This post is a part of our Pursuing Racial Justice and Equity series, which highlights the courageous and vital work happening across our Google Fiber and Google Fiber Webpass cities to fight systemic racism and create more just communities where everyone has the opportunity and the ability to thrive.


United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) has the bold mission to eradicate poverty and increase social mobility through the power of partnerships. With that mission, we serve a four county region in North Carolina in which more than 200,000 residents experience poverty every day.

For 133 years, United Ways across the country have served those crushed under the weight of impoverished environments. That service has looked, felt, and sounded like charity: direct social services in response to existing, immediate needs. Yet the issues have not gone away; they have gotten worse and that’s especially true for Black and brown communities.

The next 133 years demand more. In a time when everyone is making public statements about their stance on race in this country, we believe that “well done is better than well said.” United Way of the Greater Triangle is up to the challenge to act. We believe in:

  • An orientation to justice where we look for solutions that attack the root causes and don’t just deal with the effects of poverty.


  • A re-imagination of philanthropy where authentic partnerships with marginalized communities mean they retain the right to design the solutions for their lives rather than have approaches imposed on them.


  • An acknowledgment that the burden of poverty does not rest on the shoulders of the impoverished but on the systems with which they interact and the people that hold those systems up.


  • An anti-racism community.




The “what” won’t change. We have known the key levers of poverty for decades: early childhood care and education, literacy, high school graduation, career readiness, affordable housing, mental health, and food.

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United Way of the Greater Triangle’s investment strategy honors the importance of these focus areas by dedicating two of the three core pillars of our work to supporting children and parents from Cradle to Career and acknowledging that safe and affordable housing, access to nutritious meals, and homes free of violence and substance abuse lead to Healthy Families.

The third leg of our community impact strategy, Equity In Leadership, promises to empower marginalized leaders, amplify the stories of community that celebrate strength and don’t exploit deficits, and prepare the entire community for the full inclusion and success of people of color and women. Shout out to Google Fiber for their support of our initial grant-making investment in this pillar: 10 To Watch.

The positioning of equity as a stand-alone pillar, in the center of our strategy, also means that equity sends tentacles into our Cradle to Career and Healthy Families strategy. That looks like:



  • Pulling apart community level data connected to the key levers of poverty to focus our work on the parts of our community that are suffering the most.


  • Critically analyzing our own funding portfolio and internal operations through an equity lens. Through that same framework, we’re building and implementing new policies, procedures, and grant-making processes.


  • Asking our nonprofit partners equity-centered questions, not as a punitive measure, but as a way to determine how UWGT can leverage its assets to support and further the equity journey of our entire region.




Our equity lens tells us where disparities exist. Our anti-racism lens tells us why. With the recent launch of the Anti-Racism Community Fund (with support from partners like Google Fiber), United Way of the Greater Triangle continues its evolution into becoming the organization that our community needs now and in the future. We cannot live our mission and the Triangle cannot live into its desire to be anti-poverty without being an anti-racism community.

The Anti-Racism Community Fund will:

  • Invest in the leadership development and ideas of local community leaders.


  • Invest in scalable, anti-racism solutions aimed at systems perpetuating systemic racism.


  • Invest in the training, education, and awareness building that increases the capacity of the entire community be anti-racist.




A fundraising campaign alone is not enough to achieve the long-term, sustainable results we need. United Way of the Greater Triangle is proud to join the existing anti-racism movement, providing visibility to our audience and access to our platforms, adding to a narrative campaign that engages the community in solution oriented conversations about race, changes interpersonal interactions and shifts decision making to support the inevitable success of the entire community.

No matter where you are when you read this, you have the opportunity to take your next step in this movement. “Google” anti-racism and learn about the movement. Identify the leaders in your area that are leading the movement. Ask your local United Way about how equity is shifting the way they show up in community. Boldly adjust your personal or organizational mission and focus to be who your community needs you to be.

Posted by Nick Allen, Chief Program Officer, United Way of the Greater Triangle






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This post is a part of our Pursuing Racial Justice and Equity series, which we kicked off last week. This series highlights the courageous and vital work happening across our Google Fiber and Google Fiber Webpass cities to fight systemic racism and create more just communities where everyone has the opportunity and the ability to thrive. Our first post comes to us from Joi Imobhio, Political Director for the Workers Center for Racial Justice in Chicago.

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At the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) in Chicago, our work begins with organizing our community: majority-Black neighborhoods where residents experience ongoing racialized poverty, over-policing and criminalization. Under normal circumstances, we spend much of our time talking with constituents face-to-face about the challenges they are experiencing, and encouraging them to take action on those issues as part of WCRJ. 

COVID-19 has forced us to quickly adapt and find new ways to connect with our community. As the 2020 census and elections coincide with unprecedented public demand for racial justice, we can’t afford to slow down. The pandemic has only heightened our sense of urgency, as we insist upon action from elected officials to address the racial disparities exposed by the pandemic.

We feel fortunate to live in a time when so many effective technologies are available to us, allowing us to keep organizing while maintaining social distance. Black civic engagement is a key part of our work, and involves a year-round schedule of in-person trainings, educational sessions, town hall meetings, and door-to-door outreach. Thanks to the digital tools that we’ve been able to access — and the creativity of our members — WCRJ has continued these programs remotely since moving our work online in March. 

One of the tools that is empowering us in the COVID era is Outvote, a mobile app that allows us to reach a broad network of voters through friend-to-friend texting. Users who download the app can follow our policy and voter engagement campaigns, and receive notifications when we have new actions for them to take. This year we transformed our Forum for Safety and Liberation — usually held in August at a large venue — into a full Week of Action with daily assignments for our Outvote users. In just that week alone, our virtual allies sent 8,963 emails to elected officials, with over 100 new contacts participating. The impact was so great that we will likely add this approach in future years, whether or not COVID is a factor.

The power of digital organizing came into sharp focus in the run-up to Illinois’ March 2020 primary elections, which took place just days before the official shelter-in-place order. As residents came to understand the threat of the virus, many polling stations were closed due to shortages of volunteers. Confused residents were unsure of how to cast their ballots. As the city made arrangements for residents to vote at alternative locations, WCRJ was able to quickly disseminate this information to our constituents via Outvote and social media. 

Given the possibility of another wave of COVID-19 cases in the fall, we know that voters will likely experience new and unforeseen barriers to democracy this November. We are contingency planning for a variety of scenarios, and in all cases, we emphasize digital outreach as an effective means for helping constituents access the polls. We are excited to be expanding our work into the neighboring state of Wisconsin for the first time this year; and, with the help of these technologies, we plan to reach tens of thousands of Black voters there, in addition to over 150,000 people in Illinois.

From now until November, much of our work will be devoted to ensuring that voters understand the various options available to them this year, and that each person has created a plan for voting. However, we know that not everything will go according to plan. When unexpected barriers arise, tools like Outvote and social media platforms will allow us to rapidly provide the most up-to-date, accurate information to our contacts, helping us prevent the pandemic from disenfranchising Black voters. 

Posted by Joi Imobhio, Political Director, Workers Center for Racial Justice



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As students and their families across the U.S. begin a school year like no other, the contrast between the power of the internet and the depth of the digital divide has never been so pronounced.

A staggering 15 to 16 million students (30%) lack the internet or computer devices they need to access the education they deserve. 300,000 to 400,000 teachers (10%) can’t teach because they lack internet at home. Black, Latinx, and Indigenous/Native American households lack access at disproportionately higher rates, exacerbating long-standing inequities in education.

Google Fiber exists to help bring reliable internet to more people in communities across the country. Our team of Government and Community Affairs Managers exists to help advance digital access for the most underserved residents, who are disproportionately Black and Brown, in our communities. Since our earliest days, digital inclusion has been one of our central pillars, and we’ve now added a financial sponsorship program to support our partners doing racial justice work in Google Fiber and Google Fiber Webpass cities.

In our community partnerships, we think about all aspects of digital inclusion. For example, in our longtime partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA), Google Fiber provides free in-home gigabit internet access to hundreds of public housing residents. Beyond that, and thanks to the leadership of HACA, the City of Austin, and Austin Community College, residents have access to digital literacy training, computer devices and tech support.

Across all of our Google Fiber cities, we have learned from challenges, invested in the digital equity ecosystem, and amplified the work of community organizations to help get our neighbors trained and connected. We are proud of this enduring work and the partnerships we have formed along the way.

But it isn’t enough. As we collectively face the intertwined impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and generations of systemic racism, we know we have much more to do.

The Black Lives Matter movement rightfully calls for more from companies that have the opportunity to change systems and influence their industries. Google made a commitment to improving racial equity both internally and externally. Google Fiber is aligning with that by committing resources to racial justice organizations like the Southern Center for Human Rights, Workers Center for Racial Justice, and Austin Justice Coalition across our Google Fiber and Webpass cities. As with our ongoing digital inclusion work, we’re working with local organizations with deep ties to their communities. The Google Fiber funds will support their racial justice work.

We also know we have work to do internally to live up to our values. In 2019, we adopted a commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity (EID) as one of our company’s core values. We knew we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our mission, succeed as a business or sufficiently champion our customers without it. Over a year ago, we convened a task force of cross-functional leaders to begin an internal systemic change process aimed at more deeply integrating EID into every aspect of our business — from our product offerings to our customer service approach to our internal HR systems. Systems change work is a long game, and it takes shared, accountable leadership.

While we want to move quickly, we also need to embed EID, brick by brick, within all aspects of our business and across all of our team leaders for our values to be realized. We are seeing progress in learning and engagement from people across our organization — and we are both daunted and heartened by the steps we have mapped out ahead.

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Caption: Cross-functional group of leaders at November 2019 systems meeting (Not pictured: La'Naeschia O'Rear, Jenn Chang)


These internal and external efforts are only part of a longer journey. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring some of our local partners on this blog to highlight their work to bring racial justice and equity to their communities. And as we continue to advance digital inclusion and better connect communities, you can expect Google Fiber to be persistent in our pursuit of racial equity, within our workforce and in the way we do business in each of the cities we serve.



Posted by Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, Head of Equity, Inclusion, and Community Impact




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Earlier this week, our partner, NTEN launched applications for its sixth cohort of Digital Inclusion Fellows. The Fellowship program supports organizations serving communities impacted by the digital divide and who want to launch or expand digital literacy programs. In this time of social distancing and the urgent need to get more of our neighbors online, the program can be a resource to more organizations than we ever imagined when we first started.

Google Fiber is proud to have co-founded this program with NTEN in 2015. We’ve sponsored 68 Fellows over the first five years, driving meaningful work to address digital equity in their communities and establishing themselves as national leaders. Google Fiber-sponsored Fellows have provided almost 80,000 training hours for nearly 20,000 people across the country. They’ve built a legion of 1,200 expert volunteers who can help their neighbors navigate technology when they need a guiding hand.

There is a lot to share about past Fellows and the digital inclusion projects they’ve led — here are just a few examples from past cohorts:

  • Krysti Nellermoe (Cohort 5), at the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City, developed new systems to expand digital services at every point of the refugee experience. Resources included integrated skills training in job readiness and financial literacy programs for new arrivals to the United States, as well as business development and entrepreneurship workshops for those who have been in the country longer. She also established a Tech Mentor program, which provided new devices and in-home training for participants, and a series of Citizenship and Digital Safety workshops for teens. The IRC also hired a full-time digital inclusion coordinator over the last year, which great increased the reach of the program.
  • Emily Flores (Cohort 5), at the San Antonio Public Library, launched a Digital Inclusion Certification program, providing training in computer basics, job seeking skills, social media, and professional administrative skills in both English and Spanish.
  • Lindsey Sipe (Cohort 4), at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, developed Project LIFT, a six-week technology course where families each received 12 hours of digital literacy training and received a laptop and hotspot at the end of the course. Over 300 families have completed the course to date.


In the age of COVID-19, every organization -- from schools and clinics to churches and nonprofits -- needs a digital inclusion plan and dedicated resources to help underserved clients get online and support the building of their digital skills. The NTEN Digital Inclusion Fellowship is just one way Google Fiber is working to increase the reach and impact of these vital efforts. Thank you for helping us spread the word and encourage applications for the next cohort of the program.

Posted by Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, Head of Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact


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It’s National Library Week, and though many libraries are closed due to COVID-19, they continue to work to serve their clients and keep them connected to the larger world. To mark the week and honor the incredibly critical role libraries are playing every day both during this crisis and during more normal times, we’re sharing a post from Jill Joplin, Executive Director of the DeKalb County Library Foundation. The DCLF provides support beyond tax dollars to DeKalb County Public Library in Georgia and DCPL is just one of Google Fiber’s many library partners across the country working to help connect their communities during this time. For example, in San Antonio, we’ve partnered with Libraries without Borders to bring their Wash & Learn Initiative to local laundromats—and right now the WiFi has been extended to the parking lots so people can get online from the safety of their cars. In Nashville, Salt Lake City, Austin and other cities we have provided longtime support for Digital Inclusion Fellows and digital literacy support at public libraries.


At DeKalb County Public Library (DCPL), the Take the Internet Home with You initiative is one of the library’s most popular services and in today’s current COVID-19 environment, it is also one of the most valuable. Normally, patrons are able to check-out a WiFi hotspot for 21 days, and the devices are constantly checked out. Patrons wait by the front desk or call the library each day looking for returned hotspots. Our user data reveals more than 50% of patrons who check out these devices do not have access to the internet in their home.

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Two of our regular patrons, who check out the devices as often as they can, were able to check out a device prior to the library’s closure due to COVID-19. The library is allowing patrons with the devices to keep them during the entirety of the closure and no late fines are being assessed. We checked in with them to see how they were using their devices. Joan is a retiree without home internet. She is very grateful to be able to keep the device she checked out during the library’s closure. She is staying in touch with her family and up to date with news and updates related to COVID-19. 

Our other patron, William, says what he once considered a pleasure — the ability to get online at home — is now a blessing. He has been able to file his unemployment paperwork online because he also had checked out a hotspot prior to the library closing. He also is keeping in touch with friends and enjoying streaming movies he wouldn’t be able to see without cable or an internet connection in his home. 

Although to many of us it seems like the entire world is virtually connected, in reality, 10% of Americans don’t have access to the Internet — that number goes up to 30% for low-income Americans. Staff at DeKalb County Public Library realized a few years ago that patrons were accessing the library’s WiFi signal during times the library was closed by sitting in the parking lot or on the steps of the building. Once we’d identified this need, DCPL began seeking funding to provide mobile hotspot devices for check out. 

Thanks to our partners at Google Fiber, Mailchimp, and New York Life, DCPL has been able to provide 200 hotspots to patrons across the library system. The library would not be able to offer this service without this funding from our partners.  While demand was always high for this initiative, with the economic impact of COVID-19, we anticipate it will be even more important in the future. We are proud we can support our patrons with this essential service. 

Posted by Jill Joplin, Executive Director,
DeKalb County Library Foundation




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