As part of the Moving Underserved Communities Forward event series, ALLvanza, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), and OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates invited policy experts to discuss closing the digital divide, particularly in low-income and rural communities that still do not have the necessary digital resources. This partnership ensures that diverse thought leaders tackle some of our toughest technology challenges. The panel on October 14, 2020 was no exception. 

Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel kicked off the event in a virtual fireside chat with Rosa Mendzo, ALLvanza’s Founder, President and CEO. Next Century Cities’ Executive Director, Francella Ochillo, participated in a panel discussion with Doug Brake, Director, Broadband and Spectrum Policy, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; Anna Gomez, Partner, Wiley Rein; and Clint Odom, Executive Director, Washington Bureau, National Urban League; moderated by MMTC’s President and CEO,  Maurita Coley. 

Francella echoed the sentiments of local officials in Next Century Cities’ network, stating that the impact of the digital divide is inherently local. Broadband access, or lack thereof, can change educational outcomes, the resilience of local economies, access to health care, and civic participation. That is why local governments are working so hard to bring broadband within reach for every member of their communities. Still, that does not eliminate the need for a nationwide strategy to deploy broadband infrastructure and increase adoption. COVID-19 has made them increasingly impossible to ignore.