1. What We Did With $500,000

Students need internet. That’s something Cruzio can build and our community can help subsidize

In early 2020, as part of a memorably bad year, the pandemic made an existing problem suddenly much worse: Children couldn’t keep up with school if they didn’t have good internet. And lots of kids didn’t have good internet. Some kids had no internet at all.

Cruzio is an ISP. It’s our job to connect everyone. So we got to work. With kids unable to attend school, we didn’t wait for the slow process of government grants. We joined with amazing local partners — school districts, the County Office of Education, and the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County — and appealed to local residents. Our community responded. Our Equal Access Santa Cruz initiative received about $800,000 all told. To everyone who gave, thank you.

Cruzio knows how to spend money wisely. We know how to build solid internet connections, even to remote areas. It’s not easy, and it’s not cheap, but we set about it as fast as we could. We’ve already put over half the funds to good use.

Within 6 months of receiving funding, Cruzio had built permanent high speed connections to two migrant labor camps where hundreds of children live. Within the next few months we’d lined up two more. These are the toughest of the tough to build. When a housing complex is 20 miles from the nearest traffic light, you know you’re going to have a lot of construction, all of it from scratch.

We extended internet to Farm Discovery and other places where students do homework.

It’s not just availability that prevents families from accessing the internet. Affordability is also a factor. In 2020 and 2021 we connected hundreds more families in Section 8 housing around the county with subsidized accounts. They are paying just $15/mo — sometimes less — for high speed internet. The school districts distributed laptops. The children can connect to their schools.

And it’s not just children. Families need internet for employment, medical, and social services. The permanent connections we’ve built can help residents in so many ways.

As an added benefit, since Cruzio hires all employees locally, every dollar contributed to the Equal Access project is used to train, and employ people in our community. We hire trainees from the very neighborhoods we’re serving. We currently have five paid apprentices working and learning alongside our most seasoned techs.

Our community pulled together and already we’ve accomplished a lot together. There’s much more to do. We have some big projects lined up. You can help:

1) Write to your representatives if internet in your neighborhood is poor or overly expensive. Let your mayor, councilmember, County Supervisor, State Senator, State Legislator, and Member of Congress know where better broadband is needed.

2) Let Cruzio know if your neighborhood lacks good internet, too. We are keeping maps showing where people are most in need. We’re sharing that information with the same representatives listed above.

3) Donate! Equal Access Santa Cruz will continue to provide subsidies to low income families as long as we’re able. Give a few bucks every month and support a less fortunate neighbor’s connection.

2. A Tale of Two Internets

Serving a fabulous home like this one soaring above the Santa Cruz Mountains…

…helps us to serve families in farmworker housing close to sea level in the Pajaro Valley

Everyone needs high speed internet these days. We talk a lot about our work in low income areas but others are starving for internet because of their location, not their income.

At the same time Cruzio was building a long and difficult link to a farmworker community near Watsonville, we were also tackling a tough connection to a gorgeous hillside mansion with infinity pool and magnificent views (it’s the view that enabled us to connect them to our fixed wireless network).

We’re proud to say that we use the same high-quality equipment and provide the same level of technical support — “world class customer support,” a customer recently wrote us — to the highest income, highest value and the lowest-income, least expensive real estate in the county.

And the luxe locations help us pay for the network expansion to reach everyone else.

3. Connecting Another Farmworker Community

Children living in housing co-ops in the middle of farm country need internet. Cruzio is building it.

Cruzio is connecting a third migrant farmworker community to the internet, the San Jerardo Housing Cooperative in the Salinas Valley.

A fourth is also in the works, Jardines del Valle outside Watsonville.

Cruzio Marketing specialist Alana Matthews has written a description of the San Jerardo project:

Equal Access Santa Cruz is taking its model for closing the digital divide through community partnership and community engagement to new areas of need. Equal Access Monterey Bay is a new partnership between Cruzio Internet, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, and the Central Coast Broadband Consortium. Its first project is to bring reliable wireless internet to the San Jerardo housing cooperative located just outside of Salinas.

Thanks to a grant from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Cruzio Internet has been awarded $292,548 to build the infrastructure needed to connect every home in the cooperative. Equal Access Monterey Bay hopes to raise another $200,000 to provide the service completely free to residents for the next 5 years.


4. Check Out the Cruzio Building in the 1990s

A lively newsroom filled with reporters. Note the inexplicably boarded-up windows on the right.

In 2009, Cruzio and Cruzio’s long-time neighbor, Ecology Action, were able to purchase the former Sentinel newspaper building. The building had lain fallow for years following the newspaper’s move to Scotts Valley. The Sentinel later moved back to town — they’re in the Harvey West area now.

We purchased an empty building, echoes ringing around stained concrete rooms, puddles on the floor, wires hanging from the ceilings, and boarded-up windows. We fixed up the place, completely transforming it into a chic modern office space with cutting edge amenities: an onsite organic cafe, floor to ceiling windows, and, of course, best of all, multi-gigabit internet for Cruzio and other tenants.

When we started work on the building, it was long abandoned. But what was it like when the newspaper was at its height, producing and delivering tens of thousands of daily papers? It was quite an enterprise. Writers and editors sat upstairs chewing on cigars, salespeople were clackily typing in classified ads near the entrance on Church Street, and the rest of the building was a factory for printing and bundling newspapers.

As a model of modern production and a media company to boot, the Sentinel made a video showing how the building functioned in the 1990s, when newspapers were probably at their peak employment and productivity. That was a few decades before Cruzio moved in. We are lucky to have the video, and to see our good friend Tom Honig in some of the shots. Have fun watching how news was produced pre-internet!

5. We’ve Got the Power

Since your internet needs to be up no matter what PG&E is doing, Cruzio has made a major investment in generator power in our downtown headquarters.

When multi-day rolling blackouts occurred in 2019, Cruzio bought a second RV-sized generator to maintain our power in case the first generator fails. That’s right, two backups. The first generator’s never failed yet, but if it does, we are ready.

That generator power keeps our core network up even when other ISPs fail. If you have a UPS or other power backup at your house to keep your router and computer going, between the two of us we can usually keep you on the internet for quite a while. And we open our coworking space to members when their neighborhoods have protracted outages. Hopefully we won’t see the extended outages like in 2019, but if we do, we’ll get through it together.

6. Donate to the Food Bank, We’ll Match!

Our holiday donation program is back! Last year we were so concerned with students lacking internet that we threw everything we had into Equal Access Santa Cruz. We’re still gung-ho for that project, but we heard from many of our conscientious members who said hey, you can’t live on internet alone!

True. So this year we’re back to matching donations to the Second Harvest Food Bank up to a total of $1,500.

If you want to feed local people, Second Harvest is a great choice. They get tremendous bang for the buck, and can provide four full meals for every dollar donated. Over 60% of the food they distribute is fresh produce.

How to get your donation matched (it’s a little simpler this year): make out a check to Second Harvest or make a donation on their website. Send Cruzio a photo of the check or a screen shot of the online donation. We’ll add up all the donations and make our matching donation in January, 2022.

7. Help Us Expand, Get Free Internet

Want free Internet? Have a sweeping view?
Cruzio is always looking for well-situated buildings to join our broadband network. If we use your location we’ll give you free high-speed service.

We’ve had some great success lately, not only with taller buildings like offices and apartments, but with houses that just happen to see lots of other houses and buildings.

Not only will you save on great internet — you’ll also help other people in the community who need a better connection. If you wish your neighborhood had better internet, and your house doesn’t fit the “sweeping view” description, bug your neighbor up on the ridge!

Interested? Contact us.

8. Handy Cruzio Information

If you’re moving, Cruzio can save you from an interruption in Internet service and prevent costly fees. Call us at 459-6301 or contact us online (several weeks ahead, if possible!).

Get Cruzio Credit with Buddy Bucks
Recommend us! Each time a new customer gives us your email address, account number, or full name when they sign up you’ll get a $10 credit — or more — to your account.

Feed the Hungry
If you’re late on a payment to Cruzio, bring 3 cans of food into our office and we will waive late fees up to $5. Donations go to Second Harvest Food Bank.

Chris, Peggy, Mark, James, Frost, Sandi, Colin, Adia, Jesus, Alison, Justin, Andrew, David, Alex, Ani, Max, Iasha, Alana, Cameron, Jay, Jason, another David, Sonya, Tony, Luis, Carlos, Evan, Ean, Robert, Pily, Tyler, Noah, Adam, Alexander, Dizaree, Ben, Bishop, Bruce, Kian;

Jake, Annika & Carly (the grown “kids”)


Tales from the Front Desk: That reminds me.. a while back we had a customer who had internet service issues… our techs asked where she kept her modem, and she said under her bed. It turns out because it was warm, her dog liked sleeping on it. Dog trapped heat, and totally melted the bottom out of her SRG 360. After that, we recommended placing it in a central location, like a counter top..