(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted her Administration’s investments to bridge the digital divide through training, career assistance, and the expansion of low-cost internet service for DC residents at Byte Back’s DC Community Tech Day. Mayor Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2020 Fair Shot budget includes more than $12 million to support local entrepreneurs in starting and growing businesses.
“Whether it’s for learning, applying for jobs, paying bills, staying in touch with family and friends – the internet is what we use to get things done,” said Mayor Bowser. “We’re going to keep investing to build a more digitally-inclusive Washington, DC – from expanding low-cost internet access, to connecting residents to jobs in technology, to ensuring every resident gets counted in the digitally-enabled 2020 Census.”
Mayor Bowser also announced with Comcast that the company will expand eligibility for Internet Essentials to make all low-income households in Washington, DC eligible for low-cost Wi-Fi service. The low-cost Internet Essentials service – sponsored through a negotiated deal with Comcast – previously only targeted low-income households with school aged family members, seniors, and veterans. Mayor Bowser said her Administration will work with Comcast to share information about Internet Essentials with DC residents and explore various creative ways to get the word out to all families.
Byte Back, a nationally recognized tech nonprofit that leads digital inclusion, trains more than 500 adult students per year – 97% people of color and 59% women. Byte Back provides adults the opportunity to start using a computer for the first time, earn industry-recognized tech certifications, and move into living-wage careers.
Last year, the District’s Connect.DC program – run through the District’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) – trained more 470 seniors on how to use a smart phone to improve their daily lives and held more than 100 events on the Mobile Tech Lab and continue to work in get all neighborhoods connected. OCTO also send their own technicians into neighborhoods eight times over the past year to help folks get computers updated, repaired, and secure through the All Hands on Tech initiative.
With next year’s digital-heavy 2020 Census coming up, the District is working with an extensive network of community-based partners to connect with diverse communities across the District to share the importance of participating in the Census and ensure all residents are counted.