Distance learning has brought to light a number of equity challenges facing many Los Angeles County students and their families. One challenge that stands out is the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity to allow adequate access to at-home learning and other resources.
The YMCA-LA is launching a new program to provide free unlimited internet access to outdoor spaces at 20 LA-Y branches throughout Los Angeles. This initiative is funded via a $60,000 donation by SoCalGas and provides in-need communities with this vital utility. This is the first step in making Wi-Fi connectivity available to all and is part of the nonprofit’s commitment to providing equitable access to much needed resources.
The goal of the initiative is to bridge the digital divide with free Wi-Fi connectivity to support distance learning, offer career counseling, telehealth resources, job opportunities and other necessary resources to thrive in today’s current climate.
“We greatly appreciate the generosity of SoCalGas,” says Mario Valenzuela, vice president of equity and inclusion, YMCA-LA. “Their donation allows us to give in-need communities equal access to the internet and in turn equal opportunities as everyone else to learn and thrive.”
The program kicked off with four Y branches: Weingart East Los Angeles Family YMCA; Weingart YMCA Wellness & Aquatic Center; Wilmington Family YMCA; and Montebello-Commerce Family YMCA. An additional 16 branches will follow in the next few weeks with all branches operational by early November.
“SoCalGas and the YMCA share the common goal of improving the quality of life in the communities in which we serve. We are proud to partner with the Y to help close the digital divide and provide free public Wi-Fi to all,” says Cedric Williams, vice president of customer services for SoCalGas and YMCA board member. “This initiative will open the doors of opportunity to many Angelenos, in particular students, jobseekers, and those in need of tele-health resources.”
Internet access is unlimited and availability is in line with branch hours. Visit ymcala.org to find Wi-Fi locations and information.