There is good news among the ruins of 2020. For Cruzio, it’s that we’ve brought nearly 100 low-income families online, helping kids with online learning and seniors stay connected.
And we expect to connect hundreds more in the near future. Our upcoming project is the Buena Vista Migrant Center — till now they’ve had no broadband. About 140 children live in the housing there. Read the inspiring story of local resident Juan Morales-Rocha’s vision to connect the camp.
What we’re doing
Luckily, Cruzio is in a position to get Buena Vista and other communities access to the internet they need, quickly. And you can help, too! (There’s a donation button at the bottom of this newsletter.)
The Community Foundation has been a game changer. Where other efforts have fallen flat, philanthropy is enabling real progress in internet equity. The Foundation has set up a fund for donations to Equal Access Santa Cruz and we’re happy to announce that Driscoll’s, the Watsonville Rotary Club, and many anonymous donors have made contributions, ranging from single dollars to hundreds of thousands. We’re really making a difference to kids’ lives — and children are our county’s future.
Why it’s needed
In a place as prosperous as Santa Cruz County, why is there a need for subsidized internet? Because not everyone has affordable wifi in their home, and it makes a huge difference to their lives.
People who don’t have much money often rely on their phones for internet. That means capped bandwidth and, often, poor reception — not suitable for sustained connections. Or they try to find a coffee shop or fast food place where they can catch some wifi, which is even harder in the pandemic.
There’s even a story of a nine-year-old boy who went and sat at his pandemic-emptied school every day, because the internet was still working there and he needed to do his homework.
It’s kids like that who make us determined to help.
First by connecting school parking lots, but more importantly by connecting homes, schools, and community centers, Cruzio and our partners are getting true high-speed internet to those who need it, free in the short term and for just over $15 per month for, at least, the next 3 years.
That will help a lot of children with online learning. It will help families find the information and assistance they need in the pandemic and beyond. It will help seniors stay connected to their families and social services.
It will help us all in the long run, because Santa Cruz County needs our children to grow up informed and prepared for our future.
And people in our county have really stepped up. First the schools reached out to Cruzio. the County Office of Education and the Pajaro Valley School District saw the problem and acted quickly. They determine what families are eligible for subsidized internet and provide us with prioritized lists, so we can tackle the hardest hit households first.
Then, when Cruzio was exhausting our own resources, the Community Foundation set up their fund to help us pay to wire buildings, buy equipment, and pay for data transport to the rest of the internet. We can’t do it alone, and the Community foundation gave us a way to keep going.
Add a small amount to your monthly bill to help a family who needs internet
Equally heart-warming: many Cruzio customers have added nominal amounts to their monthly bill, which helps us maintain subsidized service to families on local schools’ priority lists. (If you’d like to do micro-donations through your Cruzio bill, go here.)
We’re grateful and proud that our community is joining us in the project. It’s been a hard year, but it’s a good time to live in Santa Cruz.
Do you know someone who might qualify for subsidized internet?
Cruzio doesn’t try to vet applicants for eligibility for these programs: there are organizations in the county which do that. We just build the network where we’re told.
If you know a student who may be eligible for subsidized internet, tell them to contact their local school district head office.
If you know a senior who may be eligible, they can go to http://www.seniorcomputer.com
Now onto the horror show that’s been 2020.