Cuyahoga County Could Start Fund To Help Close Digital Divide

Nearly 25 percent of Cuyahoga County families lack internet access and computers. Proposed legislation may help close the gap. [Shutterstock]
Nearly 25 percent of Cuyahoga County families lack internet access and computers. Proposed legislation may help close the gap. [Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock]
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Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announced Friday he has introduced legislation to create the Greater Cleveland Digital Equity Fund. The fund would provide internet and technology access to families who need it, he said.

Nearly 25 percent of Cuyahoga County families lack internet access and computers, which is a problem for remote learning and other family needs.

“If minority children can’t learn because they’re without access to the internet,  if adults can’t look for open jobs or put together a resume because they can’t get on the internet, if people can’t check out or obtain quality healthcare because they can’t access the internet, then we’ll never succeed at eliminating structural racism," Budish said.

The program would ultimately be a partnership between the county and two local foundations. Budish wants the county to allocate $1.5 million dollars to provide digital literacy and tech support. The Cleveland Foundation and the Gund Foundation would partner and donate an additional $4 million, he said.

Budish says T-Mobile would also provide 7,500 unlimited data hotspots for families with a student in K-12 public school or partner charter schools in Cuyahoga County.

T-Mobile has committed a million dollars in equipment, in addition to the $4 million pledged for the fund, he said.

The county will also provide up to 10,000 computers from local organizations like PCs for People.

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