Access Denied Ep. 12: Real Community Solutions to the Broadband Crisis (ft. Mark Hurty, Guy Robinson, and Ericka Njumanze)

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This week, we are pleased to host a number of guests, all focused on bringing positive change to families through closing the #digitaldivide. Mark Hurty is a Product Manager at EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit dedicated towards upgrading the internet access in every public school classroom in America. He is also running for a seat on the Oakland Schoolboard, and is a former public school teacher. We are also joined by three incredible members from The Oakland REACH: Michael De Sousa, Ericka Njumanze, and Pastor Guy Robinson.  The Oakland REACH is a parent-run, parent-led group committed to serving families in the most underserved communities to demand high-quality schools for children. Ericka Njumanze is a Oakland REACH Family Liaison, and a parent of 6 Oakland public school students. Pastor Guy Robinson is a pastor and is also an Oakland REACH Literacy Liberation Center participant, and is a grandparent to 3 Oakland public school students. Michael De Sousa is a Managing Director at the Oakland REACH. 

Right now, access to the internet is critical to modern life. Its value is under-realized by our federal government, as it must be considered a utility. Just as our federal government invested in building electrical lines across America and invested in placing U.S. Postal Service branches across the States, we must invest the energy in laying down cable lines to connect us all. Today, we go online to see doctors, apply for jobs, gain life-saving information, and attend public school. We must recognize that #InternetIsAUtility.

Right now, over 15 million students lack reliable access to the internet. This lack of access is preventing students from properly attending classes and is an incredible impediment to learning. 

In Oakland and across the United States, many neighborhoods that are poorly connected to the internet are also neighborhoods that were historically redlined. These communities were targeted, purposefully underserved, and the effects of redlining remain to this day. In Oakland, the same neighborhoods that were redlined are the same neighborhoods with underperforming schools and are the same neighborhoods with poor internet access.  

In an effort to address these inequities, EducationSuperHighway has built a targeted program to identify families without broadband internet, and supply them with reliable broadband access. EducationSuperHighway recognizes that internet inaccessibility is a powerful barrier to entry to our most basic needs. In this case, during the COVID-19 pandemic, public school students need internet access to attend school. Thus without the internet, students are locked out of the school house. EducationSuperHighway is addressing this critical issue.  

Once students are able to access classes online, unfortunately, their troubles do not disappear from there. Online learning is new to many, and many students and families are struggling to adjust to it. The Oakland REACH recognized this struggle to adjust to online learning, and keenly understood that underserved families experience additional difficulties in this transition. The Oakland REACH developed a new system, new programs, and new forms of outreach to help underserved families. Their new curriculum focuses on teacher, school administrative, and family partnerships to bolster student online learning. The Oakland REACH recognizes the value of including physical movement, breaks from ‘screen-time’, and face-to-face human interaction in learning.  

The Oakland REACH’s programs are being well received by Oakland parents. Tune in to hear Ericka and Pastor Guy’s personal experiences with these programs and how their children and grandchildren are responding positively to them during this pandemic. 

If you would like to engage in ongoing #InternetForALL actions, please reach out to your local elected and congress persons

To find who your Senator and Assembly Members are, click here

If you would like to add your voice, share and sign this petition:


What do you think? Let us know and share the video with your networks. 

#InternetForAll #DigitalInclusion #DigitalDivide #AllStudentsNeedInternet

Don’t miss the next episode of “Access Denied” on our Facebook Live on Wednesday, October 21st, at 4PM Pacific Time/ 7PM Eastern Standard Time. 

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