Happy New Year from Cruzio! We’re so optimistic for this next year and have so much exciting news to share with you. But first, a recap of 2021:
2021 garners some mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was a huge improvement from the absolute panic that was 2020, but it was also a year-long period of limbo and uncertainty. This year, we’re still waiting to see how the latest variant plays out with some skeptical optimism for the worst to be over soon. While last year might not have brought the peace of mind we’d hoped for, it did bring unimaginable progress that will carry us through this year.
We kept coworking going
Coworking is one among many industries to take a hard hit during the pandemic. We have such a beautiful space and community here at Cruzioworks and it was necessary but challenging to witness that put on indefinite hold during the height of the pandemic. It’s a rocky road before we’re back in full swing but in the meantime, we’re here for our members and looking forward to growing our community in 2022. A number of dedicated Cruzioworks members and our stellar Works team kept the coworking spirit alive. We owe a special thanks to our team at the Front Desk, Alex, Carlos, and Pily, for keeping all the plates spinning and keeping up with complicated, ever-changing mandates and guidelines. It’s a huge job being responsible for keeping everyone safe while maintaining an accommodating workspace, and this team really did an incredible job at balancing all of that!
We grew our local and independent network and continued to push for Equal Access
We’re always growing our network and expanding to reach more residents and businesses in Santa Cruz County. This year was one of our biggest years for expansion yet. We’ve increased our overall coverage with 38 new points of network distribution and over 700 new wireless and fiber connections. We made considerable progress in covering more of Scotts Valley – a particularly tricky area to serve with so many trees and mountains. We also brought infrastructure to Watsonville and brought on more customers in the Parajo and Watsonville areas this year than ever before in the history of our network.
Another part of our work that has added importance in the pandemic is the Equal Access Santa Cruz initiative, a partnership between Cruzio, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, the County Office of Education, school districts and multiple local organizations. Equal Access kicked off in 2020 at the height of the pandemic when students schooled exclusively from home, leaving many families to burden a compounding crisis between the pandemic, and their children’s education.
This year, Equal Access Santa Cruz raised almost $2,000,000 and we’ve been able to build out new infrastructure to reach an additional 2,000 students who are now eligible for internet access. The funding from community donations, business partnerships, and government awarded grant money made it possible to bring internet to those most in need and in areas long neglected for necessary broadband infrastructure upgrades.
Thanks to Equal Access Santa Cruz, we grew our coverage in Watsonville by over 30% in areas that hadn’t previously had adequate infrastructure.
We brought internet to Buena Vista and Tierra Alta labor housing
Our biggest project this year through Equal Access Santa Cruz was at the Buena Vista and Tierra Alta labor housing in Pajaro Valley in March. The complex has 143 units and houses about 150 of students who previously had no reliable or affordable connection to the internet even as they tried to school throughout the pandemic. Thanks to Equal Access funding, our partnership with the school districts and housing authority, and our infrastructure planning, we were able to connect the entire complex with direct lines to each unit in record time. We dedicated two of our teams to be out there every day for the month of March so that when families returned to the camp in April, their children would be able to participate in their classes. It was a huge success that has become a blueprint for our projects moving forward, as well as one that we are sharing with other small ISPs looking to make a difference in their communities.
We brought internet to Farm Discovery
In April we brought internet to Farm Discovery at Live Earth Farm, also located in Parajo Valley. This was a smaller build but no build is too small to need internet service, especially if you’re a remote community in the Pajaro Valley hills. Bringing internet to Farm Discovery meant they could continue their schooling program which helped working parents find a safe space to leave their kids during the day where they could participate in school. Thanks to a donation from Driscolls, we hooked up the Farm as well as used it as a crucial distribution point for the small community surrounding it which previously had only limited and expensive options available for broadband.
We’re excited about what Equal Access has in store for 2022 and we think you’ll be too
Equal access Santa Cruz will be bringing better internet to the Live Oak area in the first half of this year. We’re working with the school districts to grow our coverage in the area, which, despite being in-town and densely populated, doesn’t have many reliable and affordable options. Additionally, this is an area that stands out to us because there are many low-income families in the school district who are the most vulnerable to internet access inequity. Our initial plans aim to add 4 new sites with 400-800 available new connections.
Equal Access is also growing beyond Santa Cruz and we’ve taken the model to Monterey County. Cruzio Internet has been awarded a grant to build infrastructure to the San Jerardo housing co-op in Salinas. Once complete, this project will bring internet directly to the units of 250 permanent residents and 100 seasonal residents. The co-op is a low-income farmworker community and this will make a meaningful difference in their day-to-day lives and access to resources.
We’re continuing to support local business in 2022
It’s a big year ahead for restoring local business and so we’re dedicated to supporting that effort in the new year. We’ve partnered with the City’s Economic Development Board to help with their Downtown Pops program. Participating Pop-Up shops will have internet connections free of charge for the duration of the program. We’ll also be rolling out a promotion for new business signups this Spring.
And some very exciting news
Finally, we have a very exciting announcement about our growth into San Mateo County! More on that story very soon!
It’s been an exciting year and we’re nothing but excited for 2022. Thank you to everyone on our network – whether you’ve been here with us since ’89 or you’re a brand new customer – for your continued support of local and independent internet. Here’s to 2022 and a great year for all of us!