Outcomes Not Optics: Our Commitment to the Digital Divide

Charlene Lake, Chief Sustainability Officer & SVP Corporate Social Responsibility
April 24, 2024
Broadband Access and Affordability

Outcomes Not Optics: Our Commitment to the Digital Divide

In 2021, we ambitiously set forth a plan of committing $2 billion dollars over the course of 3 years to help bridge the digital divide. Our plan focused on expanding access to our high-speed networks, providing more options for affordable services, and spreading digital learning resources to underserved communities.  

The work of the past 3 years has been tremendously rewarding, but we’re not done yet. Knowing how internet access and learning services can open a world of possibilities for people, we simply can’t accept the status quo of millions of people still without access to high-speed internet service. 

That’s why we recently deepened our commitment by $3 billion dollars, for a total of $5 billion dedicated to the cause throughout the decade. Our goal is to help 25 million Americans get and stay connected by 2030, and in doing so, continue to change lives and communities.  

 From bustling metropolises to small towns, and from tribal lands to inner cities, our original commitment reached far and wide. We’ve installed 39 Connected Learning Centers (CLCs) across the country partnering with Dell, and we’ve donated $123 million to non-profit organizations on the frontlines of addressing the digital divide. Altogether, we’ve reached nearly 5 million people through our network expansion, our CLCs, free digital learning courses and workshops, and laptop giveaways. 

What’s behind these numbers are the real, everyday people utilizing these resources to improve their life experiences and economic prospects. Participants are using our CLCs and laptops we’ve donated to complete schoolwork and stay up to date on their studies, to research and apply for jobs, register their children for school and track their children’s progress, and to tap into their spirit of entrepreneurship and launch their own businesses. Some are even utilizing the CLC resources to aid them in their path to citizenship.  

Connectivity in Action  

  • Our AT&T team had the privilege of meeting Gia Duarte, a teenager living in Los Angeles. As her senior year of high school was underway, Gia struggled with researching and applying for college. Connectivity at home was limited, and her school-issued laptop wasn’t reliable. So, Gia sought the resources in the Connected Learning Center at the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund (SALEF), an organization in Los Angeles she and her family had been affiliated with since she was young.  

Through the SALEF CLC, Gia researched, applied, and was accepted to several prestigious universities. Seeing how easy these resources were to use, Gia encouraged and brought several classmates to the CLC so they could also pursue their college application process. This spirit of sharing resources that deliver opportunity will positively affect Gia’s community for years. 

Ultimately, Gia decided on the University of California, Berkeley, and signed her acceptance letter to UCB from a computer at the SALEF CLC, bringing this fantastic journey full circle. What a thrilling moment for a young student whose access to the CLC served as a critical resource on her journey to advanced education.  

“Coming to SALEF made the process of figuring out my path forward a lot less daunting,” said Gia. “Thanks to the SALEF CLC, I have a lot to look forward to in my future.” 

This is just one example of how lives can change for the better through the opportunities of a high-speed internet connection. We’re eager to open a world of possibilities for 20 million more. 

Read more about our renewed commitment. 

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