Bay Area organization raises funds for digital equity

Wi-Fi router and modem setup
Katie Lee/Staff
No One Left Offline aims to increase access to internet by helping those in need pay internet bills and offering free broadband locations.

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Lack of internet access has become a growing issue, especially with many confined to their homes.

Access to broadband can help people keep up with schoolwork, make medical appointments and connect with one another on many levels. That is where No One Left Offline, or NOLO, comes in.

Kevin Frazier, founder of NOLO, is focused on providing community access to those in need, specifically students, families, older adults and individuals with disabilities, by stepping in directly to pay internet bills for those who cannot and providing free broadband locations in communities.

NOLO’s first goal is to raise $50,000 when it launches its Bridge the Divide campaign the week of July 27.

The organization has formed a coalition connecting with companies and foundations focused on technology and access in order to pool resources and expertise to address the digital divide in the Bay Area.

Members of the coalition can simply participate in conversations around bridging the technological divide or can actively contribute to the campaign by raising funds or identifying community members in need of internet access and helping them.

“The SF Tech Council joined NOLO because 100,000 people in SF still do not have reliable internet access,” said Karla Suomala, project director of the San Francisco Tech Council, in an email. “This disproportionately impacts older adults and people with disabilities, particularly those with low incomes, limited English language skills, and people of color.”

In the longer term, NOLO plans to create the Digital Equity Coalition of California, bringing together stakeholders to identify needs and coordinate solutions to provide access to those without internet.

Another one of NOLO’s long-term goals is to create “NOLO Zones,” areas in or around businesses for older adults, students and individuals with disabilities to get online for free.

Some school districts, including Berkeley Unified School District, are working on similar projects to give their students access to technology and the internet. Frazier, however, argues that NOLO’s objectives go further.

“We see ourselves as the broader effort to facilitate digital equity,” Frazier said. “Where school districts have largely focused on devices and temporary solutions like hot spots, we see ourselves as focusing more on getting people to feel financially secure with having and maintaining a broadband solution.”

Starting July 27, NOLO will have a GoFundMe page, but it is currently accepting donations and volunteers through its website.

Contact Clara Brownstein at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @clarabrownstein.