San Diego, CA -- The San Diego Broadband Initiative (SDBI), a program led by the San Diego Futures Foundation and a collaboration of community partners, has reduced the digital divide in unconnected communities throughout San Diego County. Formed to provide technology and technical resources to San Diego's underserved and low-income families, SDBI delivered hardware, software, applications, training, technical services and related resources to over 3,600 low-income families in San Diego's urban disadvantaged neighborhoods. By bridging the "digital divide," these families have access to an improved quality of life including not only computers and connections, but access to training that leads to higher levels of education and employment. A 2008 survey conducted by the California Emerging Technology Fund indicated that broadband use and access increased throughout the state of California as a result of statewide efforts and programs like SDBI. The survey evaluated 10 categories of technology use to measure progress in closing the digital divide. Not surprisingly, the greatest increase was in the use of social networking, which grew 11%.
To date, over 4,000 families have participated and received a wide variety of services. Participants completed more than 31,000 hours of basic computer training the first two years. After training, each family received a restored desktop computer with a new operating system, current software and discounted internet service.
The San Diego Broadband Initiative reached a number of significant milestones toward expanding the use of technology among unconnected populations in its first year. SDBI launched an interactive website, www.sdbroadband.org, negotiated reduced Internet connection rates, and provided over 30 on-line education and training courses to families. The depth of SDBI services offers families the tools they need to increase skills and educational achievement, providing paths that lead to economic security and improved quality of life.