“Today, we get to see the fruits of the investment with 6,000 students registered and more will probably show up like last year to explore the digital world and all the opportunities that it offers them,” said Second District L.A. County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell.
On Wednesday, October 4, Los Angeles County hosted the 2nd Annual Tech Empowerment Day at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The private invitation-only event provided 6,000 middle and high school students from across the county with the opportunity to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math. This event serves as another course of action by L.A. County to close the digital gap.
“The county of Los Angeles has launched a number of different strategies to accelerate digital equity,” said Selwyn Hollins, director of the L.A. County Internal Services Department.
“It’s our second annual Tech Empowerment Day and it’s another initiative to help our communities impacted by the digital divide particularly in under resourced neighborhoods.”
“I want to applaud the county led by our internal services department for making intentional investments to close the digital divide, a goal that supervisor [Hilda Solis] and I share given the communities and the constituents that we serve,” said Mitchell.
Tech Empowerment Day, a part of Delete the Divide (DTD), is an initiative led by the county to advance digital equity in underserved communities through partnerships, infrastructure investments, and technology resources. DTD services include paid internships, professional information technology certificates, free laptops for constituents in need, digital literacy training, and assistance with enrollments in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program.
“During the pandemic, we heard of horror stories where children had to go to McDonald’s to get Wi-Fi,” said Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District.
“People had to go to the library, libraries weren’t always open, so there was a very big limitation in terms of access that also helped to push back our students learning abilities and achievement.
Solis continued, “And for me, it’s very stark to see the number of our young children that have had receded in their education.”
Students came from South L.A., Long Beach, Pomona and as far as Lancaster, Palmdale, and the Valley, some schools even walked to attend the event. They all gained hands-on experience and behind-the-scenes exposure to advanced technologies from over 35 public and private sector organizations. The event featured host activity stations, demonstrations, and information booths. Although intended for youth, this event was also for school educators.
“We have literally 40 different exhibitors from private industry, universities and community-based organizations that are sharing hands on experience, behind the scenes information to the students,” said Hollins.
“It’s an opportunity for the educators, the administrators, other schools to network with these companies and figure out how to bring these tools and these technologies to their school.”
Tech Empowerment Day fills an important space in Black and Brown communities that are behind the digital curtain. As many households lack access to the internet and computers, DTD has stepped to create bridges. Some of the surprises of the day included laptop giveaways, paid technology internships for individuals 16 and older and professional technology certificates. Mitchell shared her gratitude in L.A. County’s response to addressing the digital divide but, stated more needs to be done.
“This is a monumental accomplishment that will impact countless young people across LA County,” said Mitchell. “However, the county can’t do it all alone, and we need partners, like many of the people who are present today, to do this work.
“If we are truly going to be successful, we need the state to join us as partners.
“Historical disparities must be addressed.”
“What we have to do in between time, county, the state and the private sector is make sure that the infrastructure is there, and that people have access to the Internet that they can afford,” said Solis.
“You know, people who live in this immediate area around the Coliseum can’t afford it, the products that are sold to them are the highest price and frankly the slowest.
“So, making sure that we have the infrastructure in place to truly delete the divide and that people can afford to have it in their households, that’s the priority of the Board of Supervisors. We hope that continues to be the priority of the state, our state colleagues and we have the federal government is weighing in too.
“If every level of government gets on the same page, we partner with the private sector, the service providers understand the real need of the community, we will be able to close this very quickly and permanently.”
For more information, visit www.deletethedivide.org.