• IDRA Newsletter • October 2022 •
For Digital Inclusion Week 2022, IDRA and our long-standing partner, ARISE Adelante, led a site visit with a representative from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to hear from families in south Texas colonias. Colonias are unincorporated communities with scarce public services. ARISE Adelante is a community-based organization that supports family leadership and promotes community empowerment through education. We heard compelling stories of digital inequity faced by students and families.
“We would have three in the home, three kids in one area would work. In worst cases, they would just have one computer.” – Lourdes Flores, ARISE President
“Sometimes, my cousins would come too and connect to the Wi-Fi too. We were all just scattered around the house, connecting. And then at one point, we had to call the company to get faster Wi-Fi.” – Gabriela, former student
“The community needs digital skills to help our students succeed with online learning.” – Eva Carranza, ARISE staff member
IDRA and ARISE Adelante also commemorated this year’s Digital Inclusion Week theme “Turning Our Moment into Movement” by co-facilitating a panel discussion on the Realities of the Digital Divide within the Colonias of Texas. During this hybrid in-person/webinar event, attendees heard from expert panelists about Internet issues community members faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the daily challenges they continue to experience related to access, connectivity and affordability.
As states develop their digital equity plans in response to the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), community voices are vital in producing plans that are informed and sustainable. IDRA partnered with ARISE Adelante to center the lived experiences of impacted Texans. The event highlighted the necessity of grassroots digital inclusion partnerships in solving challenges to achieve digital equity. Video of the session is available for viewing at https://idra.news/DigDivWbr. IDRA will release a full report on the findings from the tour with ARISE Adelante soon.