While great strides have been made toward providing communities greater access to information technology, a digital accessibility gap still remains. In Los Angeles County, it is estimated that 416,000 households lack home internet service and 265,000 households are without a home computer. Notably, low-income neighborhoods and populations that are predominantly Black and Latinx are amongst some of the most impacted areas, with over 20% of households lacking a broadband connection in some areas.
Beyond having broadband access, students – our next generation of workers – need to build digital literacy skills through exposure to emerging technology. To address this, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) launched Digital Inclusion Week to bring momentum to digital equity movements across the country, and promote actions at both the national and local levels.
To help raise awareness of technology solutions that aim to reduce digital inequities in Los Angeles County, Google Public Sector partnered with the Internal Services Department (ISD) to host the inaugural “2022 Tech Empowerment Day.” As part of the Delete the Divide initiative on October 6, over 3,200 middle and high-school students and educators across 58 local schools convened at the SoFi Stadium where they were introduced to the latest STEM technologies and innovations.
Students participated in hands-on training and demonstrations from over 20 vendors including global tech companies and local non-profits, experienced AR/VR technology and robotics demonstrations, interactive coding workshops, and were offered private tours of the football field, home to the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.
At the Google Cloud booth alongside Carahsoft and SpringML, students built an LED circuit to power a lightbulb, learned about AI models through a drawing game, and interacted with YouTube creators who promote digital equity and STEM technologies including Extra Credits, 3SB Games, and GoldieBlox.
Selwyn Hollins, director of LA County, explained the impact of the event saying “Tech Empowerment Day was a tremendous success. Students as well as educators benefitted from experiences with so many different technologies. We are appreciative to Google for its ongoing partnership and commitment to helping deliver resources that support digital equity in Los Angeles County.”
We’re proud to support Los Angeles County in this critical mission enabling pathways to personal development and economic growth through greater technology, and help “Delete the Divide.” Beyond K-12, Google Cloud continues to support state and local organizations on their missions to help prepare faculty and higher education learners for in-demand technology careers, with Google Cloud skills programs. While technology alone will not improve education, students and teachers can thrive when they have access to the best tools and resources. Google.org also donated $10 Million to the NDIA to help remove digital divide barriers for rural and tribal communities at a national level in February 2022.
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