Commentary: According to data collected by NMSU's Center for Community Analysis (CCA), 41% of households earning less than $20,000 a year are without internet access in the Las Cruces Public School District. That number only increases when looking at Doña Ana’s surrounding more rural districts. 58% in Gadsden District and 70% in Hatch Valley. These staggering pre-pandemic numbers convey the historical account of inequitable conditions in our community.
In the wake of COVID-19, these already astounding disparities have been amplified. However, so has the opportunity to highlight the urgency to our policymakers and generate the collective voice needed to do something about it. Cost estimates to ensure broadband connectivity statewide are anywhere from two to five billion dollars but, we have the opportunity to ensure at least one billion becomes available to approach this critical need in New Mexico in the up coming legislative session.
As stated in the Education Context Report compiled by our partners at CCA: “Inequitable access to the internet and technology, otherwise known as the “digital divide” has long signaled one of the great inequities in education.” In early 2020, the SUCCESS Partnership and school districts across our state began to see the resounding need for access to technology surface in a way that could not be ignored. In a July work session, the Leaders Circle, a group of over 30 community leaders that govern the SUCCESS Partnership, invited members of the k-12 community to share their concerns and decided to make access to broadband a priority.
"In light of the pandemic's devastating impact on student access to education, the Leaders Circle of the SUCCESS Partnership strategized around the best way they could use their voices to advocate for students' and educators' needs, and broadband access was the clear choice," remarked Lori Martinez, Executive Director of Ngage New Mexico.
Here are a few ways YOU can help to bring statewide broadband to New Mexico.
1. Sign the letter! – Ask our Governor with overwhelming community support to allocate the $200 million in capital outlay funds that will allow our state to qualify for federal funding resulting in $1billion for statewide connectivity. Find the letter on our website. SUCCESSdac.org/ConnectNM
2. Share and get the word out! – Ask your networks to sign on to this letter. The potential impact of our collective reach is abundant. YOU can help bring statewide broadband to New Mexico!
3. Submit a video or text testimonial – How would broadband elevate this community? Or How is the lack of broadband affecting education, health care, access to job opportunities, or anything else? This can be a short 30 second or less video or just a few sentences.
4. Write an op-ed - Write a piece supporting these efforts to be published in newspapers and online outlets throughout the state.
5. Share/Follow #ConnectNM on social media – Using the hashtag #ConnectNM and tagging the Governor's office, we will build on this initiative's history and highlight the current efforts through our respective pages and outlets. WE can make a difference!
About the SUCCESS Partnership:
The SUCCESS Partnership is a prenatal to career readiness education initiative that officially launched in 2013. The collaborative is supported by a diverse group of over 100 cross-sector organizations comprised of parents, education professionals, nonprofit organizations, businesses, regional partners, and community leaders committed to improving educational outcomes in Dona Ana County. The primary support organizations for the SUCCESS Partnership collaborative are the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, Ngage New Mexico, La Clinica de Familia Family Services, and NMSU Center for Community Analysis.
For more information about the SUCCESS Partnership, contact marketing@SUCCESSdac.org