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Valley Vision Goes Back to School

It’s that time of year again, as summer comes to an end and leaves start to turn familiar colors of brown and red, that excited parents and eager children return through the front doors of their elementary school for “Back to School Night.”

Valley Vision was excited to participate in Back to School Night at both Martin Luther King, Jr. Technology Academy and Leataata Floyd Elementary School as they welcomed  their students back for a new academic year. Students and parents learned about programs and events happening at the schools, and were also able to meet and interact with teachers and staff. There were plenty of games and activities for everyone as both schools actively showcased what makes their institution special. Martin Luther King Jr. Technology Academy was especially lucky to have both Senator Richard Pan and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty as part of the welcoming committee. Both elected officials gave welcoming speeches and announced each student would receive a free backpack for attending the evening’s event.  While Valley Vision was at Leataata Floyd Elementary School, project associate Emma Koefoed interacted with parents to collect data on Internet accessibility as a way to gauge how families are responding to the low-cost Internet programs. As a thank you, Valley Vision was excited to give away $25 dollar gift cards to four lucky winners who participated in the survey.

As part of our Connected Communities Initiative, Valley Vision, in partnership with services providers such as AT&T and Comcast, has been working to help provide information on low-cost Internet services that are currently available to families in low-income neighborhoods, including the communities near Leataata Floyd Elementary School and Martin Luther King, Jr. Technology Academy. By meeting certain requirements such as having a child in the SNAP/CalFresh program, be a recipient of SSI, or a HUD Housing residents, can qualify a home for Internet connectivity at speeds up to 10 megabits per second, for $10 per month.

Access to the Internet is an economic gateway, providing life-altering opportunities for people of all ages. In 2015, Wired Magazine quoted a study by Pew Research that found “15 percent of Americans don’t have access to the Internet at all, most notably senior citizens, adults without a high school education, and low-income families.” In 2016, the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) found that although Internet connectivity had increased overall for California households, mostly due to increased use of smartphones, “lower-income Californians remain less likely to have access.” CETF found that only 68 percent of people who make less than $22,000 annually reported being able to get online at home.

Being able to access the Internet means many things. For students, it provides a chance to perform research relating to school work, obtain higher education, access online tutoring tools, and boosts their capacity for learning and educational attainment. Availability of low-cost Internet solutions provides opportunities for parents and guardians as well who are part of that 68% of low-income Californias without access to the internet. With reliable any-time Internet access at home and not having to depend on public libraries, employment offices, or local restaurants for free WiFi the chance for social and economic mobility become possible.  At Valley Vision, we will continue our work to close the digital divide in the Sacramento region, and we invite you to get involved!

To learn more about AT&T ACCESS click here. To learn more about Comcast Essentials click here. To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!

Emma Koefoed is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the 21st Century Workforce and Healthy Communities impact areas.