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Closing the Digital Divide in Hispanic Communities

The United States recently celebrated Hispanic-American Heritage Month. And as we continue to reflect on the many contributions Hispanic Americans have made to our country, NTIA has been working hard to ensure Hispanics and other minorities are obtaining the digital skills they need to better compete in a global economy that is increasingly reliant on technology.

The latest data, compiled with the help of the U.S. Census Bureau as part of NTIA’s “Digital Nation” series, shows that 63 percent of Hispanic households adopted broadband in the home as of October 2012. This is a significant increase from July 2011 data, which showed that only 56 percent of U.S. Hispanic households had broadband in their homes. The data shows that, while work remains, the nation is making progress in addressing this important issue.

NTIA has been working to bring more Hispanics online through its broadband grant programs by funding numerous projects that have helped to promote digital literacy and broadband adoption in Hispanic communities across the country. Many of those who have yet to adopt broadband in the home may be unfamiliar with the benefits of going online. Digital literacy training programs provide users with an incentive to adopt broadband by demonstrating the benefits of the Internet and money-saving applications such as couponing, online banking and shopping.

With the help of NTIA’s broadband grant program, many Hispanic communities have benefitted from projects aimed at expanding digital literacy and promoting broadband adoption. These include the Learner Web Partnership, which is working with such institutions as South Texas College, where 95 percent of the student body is Hispanic, to provide access to new technologies by opening up computer centers in two heavily Hispanic counties in south Texas.

Another leader in the effort to close the digital divide among Hispanic Americans and others is the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF). The group’s president is set to testify Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Committee on broadband adoption. Using funds from an NTIA broadband grant, CETF partnered with the Latino Community Foundation and a network of seven other community groups to provide digital literacy classes in Spanish so that parents could find jobs and become more involved in their children’s education.

San Francisco-based Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), an NTIA broadband grant recipient, collaborated with the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) and a national network of Latino economic development agencies to create 19 public computer centers across the country and provide basic and specialized training for low-income Latino entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses.

With the help of NTIA’s broadband investments, these groups and many others are making progress in closing the digital divide in Hispanic communities across the United States.

Click here for the Spanish translation (Para la traducción Española).