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Digital Equity

We build awareness of and work to close the digital divide by advocating for paradigm-shifting policies and convening cross-sectoral leaders to increase investments into innovative solutions.

Advocate

For the creation and passage of legislation on digital inclusion

Convene

A digital inclusion-focused coalition of philanthropic stakeholders

Launch

Programs that surface innovative connectivity technologies

Scale

Best-in-field initiatives working to eliminate the digital divide

Our Work

Race and Digital Inequity: 
The Impact on Poor Communities of Color

Digital inequity continues to perpetuate intergenerational poverty among poor communities of color by disenfranchising them, limiting their access to health care and education, and stifling economic opportunity and growth. Black and Latino students are 30% to 40% more likely to have limited access to the internet, while 68% of Americans living on rural tribal lands don’t have access to broadband. On September 23rd, our program featured extraordinary digital equity leaders who explored the intersectionality of the digital divide and the racism entrenched in this issue.

Race and Digital Inequity

Digital Divide: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

This program focused on building a foundation for in-depth understanding of national, state and local contexts and precedents in digital (in)equity, and introducing attendees to ongoing initiatives combatting the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on our country and society.

Philanthropy Post-COVID: Where Do We Go From Here?

This program spotlighted philanthropic leaders and the digital equity investments they’ve made pre- and post-pandemic. Grantmakers, public-private liaisons, and venture investors shared best practices, lessons learned, and ways to build back better beyond COVID-19. 

Stronger Together: The Role of Cross-Sector Partnerships in Digital Equity

This event focused on deepening our understanding of how effective public-private partnerships can be designed and implemented, specifically at the local and regional levels. Subject matter experts shared case studies of proven models and solutions implemented both in-state and around the country.

Build Back Better: Digital Equity in the Biden-Harris Administration

Following President Biden’s pledge to make digital equity a cornerstone of his administration, our panel will share their insights on the government’s approach to technology policy, and how the Biden-Harris administration can lead on one of the most potentially transformative economic development investments of the century.

The Power of Connectivity: How Internet Innovators are Closing the Digital Divide

This event spotlighted a panel of bold, pragmatic experts who shared their work and learnings from building solutions that can close the divide for all students, educators, and families.  

Digital Equity in the California Legislation: The Golden State’s Historic Opportunity

In Sacramento, tackling the digital divide has received top billing among pundits and decision makers. Oftentimes inaccessible, the conversation usually remains within the confines of the Capitol. This program, which featured California policymakers, shifted the paradigm.

California Digital Divide Innovation Challenge

Closing the Digital Divide Once and For All

Led by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, and the California Department of Education in partnership with Michelson 20MM Foundation, General Motors, Genentech, and other organizations, the California Digital Divide Innovation Challenge seeks to identify and develop technology that will make affordable broadband internet access universally accessible across the state, without exception.

Michelson 20MM Joins California Department of Education to Identify Solutions to Close the Digital Divide

Education Trust West

Student Polling

Conducted a student poll that reached a representative sample of California students enrolled at community colleges and four-year public and private institutions. Students were asked about resources and support they’re receiving from their institutions and their perceptions of the effectiveness of their institution’s strategies.

Digital Mapping

Created a digital map that illustrates the higher education system’s response, including gaps in digital access and implementation of distance learning. The map will be used to provide a view of outcomes (impact of school closures on high school graduation rates and UC/CSU enrollment) and will be organized by schools, community college districts, and higher education institutions.

Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD)

Funding Human I-T

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelson 20MM teamed up with the Foundation for L.A. Community Colleges and other funders to assist LACCD students who were forced to transition to remote learning mid-term. The partnership provided 20,000 students with access to Chromebooks, internet hotspots, low-cost home internet connections, and digital literacy workshops.

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Additional Resources

Fill out the form to get a FREE digital copy of “A Beginner’s Guide to Broadband and the Digital Divide,” a resource that provides an overview of broadband technologies, key terms and data to aid discussions on solving the digital divide.

Broadband and the Digital Divide

Glossary of Terms

Internet Global computer network providing information and communication facilities
Broadband An umbrella term for a kind of internet access that is always on and fast
Types of Internet Technology
Dial-up Provides internet, but not fast enough to qualify as broadband
Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) Sends data over unshielded power lines. While physically possible, not a stable way to get content. Typically provides speeds slower than satellite
Satellite

Sends data wirelessly to receivers. Easily disrupted by weather. 

Average download speeds 500 Kbps, upload speeds 80 Kbps

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

Sends data over traditional copper telephone lines. 

Typical speeds range from several hundred Kbps to Mbps

Wireless

Fixed wireless sends data over radio links, with a fixed receiver endpoint. 

Typical speeds are comparable to DSL or cable

  • Mobile wireless: endpoints can move but it provides lower speeds, in the range of several hundred Kbps
  • Wireless Internet Services Providers (WISPs): provide wireless broadband at speeds around 1 Mbps using unlicensed devices. Most frequently found in or built for areas not served by cable or wired networks
Cable Sends data using the same coaxial cables as TV. Typical speeds of 1.5 Mbps or more
Fiber Sends data over optic cables. Typical speeds are tens or even hundreds of Mbps faster than DSL & cable

Other Resources