On May 4, the Digital Equity LA (DELA) coalition held an advocacy day to discuss internet access’s importance among low-income communities. The DELA convened at Los Angeles City Hall to showcase the coalition’s work over the past three years and their efforts to increase awareness of internet access.
What is DELA?
DELA is a coalition made up of organizations and nonprofits in Los Angeles County that deliver education, housing, immigration, and health care to lower-income communities. The organizations include LA Voice, Alliance for a Better Community, and LA Tech, which provide financial and programmatic resources.
The California Community Foundation, a foundation that partnered with other organizations seeking digital equity, founded the DELA coalition in 2020 after recognizing the need for accessing the internet.
“The Digital Equity Initiative originally started off as a three-year project,” Natalie González, Deputy Director of the Digital Equity Initiative at CCF, said. “It came about during the pandemic when CCF recognized the need to fund an initiative specifically for access to the broad brand.”
According to the California Emerging Technology Fund, 15% of California households are digitally disadvantaged with unequal access to digital technology. 9.6% do not have access to the internet, while 5.6% are under-connected. In the same research, CETF found that most of these households are from low-income communities and Latino households.
With many activities adopting an online presence, such as education, work, and government services, DELA has been creating a case for affordable and reliable broadband as an essential utility like water and electricity.
“We are looking to support and push a narrative that uplifts communities’ voices when it comes to infrastructure, said González. “It’s really about educating communities, families, and educators about digital redlining.”
DELA’s Advocacy Day has brought many of its organizations together to discuss the disparity of digital redlining, a lack of investment by internet service providers among communities of color. One of the companies that helped plan Advocacy Day was GPSN.
GPSN is a non-profit organization focusing on improving Los Angeles’ public education by supporting and funding other organizations. GPSN brings together other organizations, including CCF, and allows them to use their leadership, expertise, and other resources to advance education among poor communities.
“GPSN’s mission is really to make sure we are leveraging public education as a space to support underserved communities,” said Ray López-Chang, Senior Manager of Collective Action at GPSN.
López-Chang helped create DELA’s first Advocacy Day event, along with help from Executive Director at Communities in Schools of Los Angeles Elmer Roldan,
Shayna Englin and Natalie González from CCF.
“For us, Digital Equity LA Advocacy Day is an opportunity to demonstrate the work we’ve been doing for the past two and a half years in partnership with our communities and share that with different elected offices so that they have a better understanding of what they should be looking out for as they become a better advocate of digital equity in LA,” López-Chang said.
DELA Advocacy Day
The event was hosted at the Tom Bradley Room at City Hall, with more than 80 of DELA’s partners, such as Alliance for a Better Community (ABC), Arts for LA, Boys & Girls Club of Carson, and Community Clinics Association of LA County, coming together to enjoy breakfast. Many companies share DELA’s mission of advocating or providing resources for equity in education among lower-income communities.
After introductions, the coalition made its way to City Hall to continue its increase in awareness of digital among elected officials. The alliance had the chance to partner with elected officials, like Mayor Karen Bass, City Attorney Hydee Fedelstein-Soto, City Controller Kenneth Mejia, and some City Council members, to inform them of the discrimination.
“We will be meeting with them, sharing about the work that we do,” González said. “The collective action that has happened from the coalition and just letting them know we’re here as a resource.”
Speaking to the elected officials about price discrimination among many colored communities, digital redlining, and what broadband is and how it works so that they can understand the discrimination.
“We are pushing for a narrative that supports the internet as a utility, just how we talk about or have conversations about water bills or electricity bills, and we want to include the internet,” said González. “I think talking about the internet through the same lens you talk about a utility changes the perspective because it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity for families.”