By Sara Inés Calderón
EveryoneOn is a non-profit organization that works to provide “high-speed, low-cost Internet service and computers, and free digital literacy courses accessible to all unconnected Americans.” We had the opportunity to chat with Regional Manager Norma Fernandez about EveryoneOn and their work.
“The U.S. Census reports that 26.6% of households lack high-speed Internet service at home. This is not acceptable. Employment opportunities, educational resources, public services, and many more resources exist exclusively online and now more than ever it is imperative to help all communities get online and leverage the power of the Internet,” Fernandez stated.
Más Wired: Why is computer literacy important for Latino households, isn’t mobile enough?
Norma Fernandez: This is a huge debate. Yes, mobile devices provide the opportunity to stay connected and access information and resources at home and on the go. However, what the mobile phone does not provide is the opportunity to learn computer literacy skills (think typing, working with certain programs, etc.) that have become essential to have in the work environment. Additionally, applying for jobs, building a resume, submitting a college application, and doing research aren’t seamless on a mobile phone yet.
As Latinos, we are driving and leading mobile adoption, however, I consistently meet Latina moms and señoras that rock their smartphone yet they don’t know how to access email, look up a bus schedule, or Google a topic of interest. I’ve also met many Latino parents who fearful about using the laptops and desktops they have at home. I imagine a world where everyone, not just those who have the means, knows how to and utilizes the Internet and technology to create a better world!
MW: How do you feel your programs have transformed Latino communities?
NF: My work focuses in Los Angeles where 30 to 35 percent of residents in the county lack high-speed Internet at home (this does not include Internet access on a mobile phone). The majority of these “disconnected” households are Latinos in low-income communities. So I’m out there everyday at schools, community-based organizations, on the phone, and everywhere else talking to Latinos about the importance of getting “connected” and how to get connected.
EveryoneOn works with Internet service providers and makes available low-cost Internet offers via our platform at EveryoneOn.org/LA. As we continue to grow and develop strong collaborations with diverse organizations, we are reaching more communities and helping them adopt.
MW: How do you think Latinos will participate in the future of tech in this country?
NF: Latinos, especially youth and young adults, are already huge participants in tech. We are buying products, consuming content, and using technology to organize and make our voices heard. In the process, we are informing corporations and the government that our communities cannot be ignored or excluded. We need to be part of the equation. Specifically, beyond being consumers, Latinos need to create products, content, and services that will create jobs and enhance our country’s economy while also building strong local communities.
MW: What are your current/future programs and how can people get involved?
NF: Everyone can help eliminate the divide and create a more digitally inclusive society. By starting a fundraising campaign on our website, folks can help a family, individual, or an entire community get low-cost Internet service or computers.
If interested, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or people can learn more at EveryoneOn.org/Start-Campaign/. There are many families who would greatly benefit from these resources!
Sara Inés Calderón is a journalist and writer who lives between Texas and California. Follow her on Twitter @SaraChicaD.