September 07, 2023

United is the Way to Bridge the Digital Divide

Charlene Lake
Charlene Lake Chief Sustainability Officer and SVP of Corporate Social Responsibility

AT&T and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas have long shared a common vision: to connect those we serve to greater possibilities.

We know when we help connect people to technology, it can be a bridge to opportunity. That’s why we’re contributing another $1 million over the next two years to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas in support of the new Digital Bridges program focused on southern Dallas.

This contribution adds to the $1.2 million we previously made to support the distribution of 2,000 free laptops, digital literacy training and technology help for residents served by the nonprofit.

This new contribution will help the United Way add more community navigators in the southern Dallas community. Thousands of families will receive a laptop and assistance from a trained navigator who can provide digital literacy training to help with important tasks like enrolling in health care and the Affordable Connectivity Program, which can cover the cost of internet service for those eligible.  

We’re joined in this effort by major contributions from Texas Instruments Foundation, the Richard and Mary Templeton Foundation and the Eugene McDermott Foundation. Together, we aim to deliver the benefits of connectivity in southern Dallas to those on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Unfortunately, those who lack access to the internet are automatically excluded from many aspects of daily life – including access to job openings, online learning and education resources, digital health care and more. Across the nation, we are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technology. In fact, the National Skills Coalition reports that 92% of jobs in the U.S. require digital skills. The stakes have never been higher. According to research:

  • 27% of adults with household incomes of $30,000 or less lack home broadband
  • One-third of Americans lack basic digital skills; Black and Hispanic workers are overrepresented in this group.

Our goal is to change these numbers, but it takes collaboration to move the needle. Combining our digital divide efforts with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and other contributors means greater impact. And working with credible nonprofit organizations in the southern Dallas community means effective reach. We’ll be working with community organizations, like the Puede Network, Jubilee Park and Community Center, libraries, and dozens of others to connect more of the underserved.

Adan Gonzalez, the founder of Puede Network, knows all too well what it’s like to live in the digital divide. He was raised in the South Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas and recalls applying for college using a borrowed laptop and Wi-Fi from a nearby restaurant.

“I don’t want another kid to have to sit on the curb of McDonald’s to access the internet,” Gonzalez says. “The Digital Bridges funding will give my organization the opportunity to reimagine what the learning space at our center will look like. Equipping kids with technology to explore and grow could provide endless opportunities.”

All told, the new Digital Bridges collaboration will touch more than 30,000 lives in the Dallas community by:

  • Providing more than 4,200 computers to those in need.
  • Creating computer labs in community-based organizations.
  • Offering digital literacy training to nearly 3,000 individuals.
  • Helping more than 15,000 residents enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program.

We remain vigilant in tackling the digital divide in Dallas and nationwide through our AT&T Connected Learning® initiative, which helps people get computers and connectivity, gain skills to use the internet effectively, and embrace the internet so they can reap its vast benefits.

This is how we build the bridge to possibilities. 

United is how we will get there. 

Read more Digital Divide news