The Greenlining Institute Launches 'The Town Link'

In 2020, as workplaces and businesses shuttered due to COVID-19 lockdowns, we were reminded that internet access is a fundamental right. It showed us that the internet is no longer a luxury rather it is a necessity for us to connect to friends and families, access government services, achieve economic security and to be a full member of today’s digital society. Despite the internet’s importance, the latest data shows that 94,000 Oakland residents lack internet access and are on the wrong side of the digital divide.

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There are many reasons for the digital divide, but several key barriers to internet connectivity include:  
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Affordability

The high cost of internet service limits access to high-speed home internet.

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Devices

Many families cannot afford reliable computing devices that have internet connectivity.

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Digital Literacy

Many of those in the digital divide are not comfortable with using a computer or going online.

To address these barriers, The Greenlining Institute, in collaboration with the City of Oakland, has developed The Town Link, a year-long program intended to:

  1. Build digital inclusion and digital literacy through trainings and educational programs, 
  2. Build awareness around free and affordable broadband plans, 
  3. Provide computers and tablets to residents that lack devices, and 
  4. Provide $100,000 in grants and technical assistance to 10 local organizations ($10,000 per organization) with the goal of increasing internet adoption and digital literacy in priority communities and neighborhoods.

The Greenlining Institute Announces Grants to Close Oakland’s Digital Divide

In October 2021, The Greenlining Institute announced grants to 10 grassroots Oakland organizations working to close the digital divide.

The 10 local organizations receiving $10,000 each, funded by the City of Oakland, are:

Allen Temple Baptist Church (Logo)
Allen Temple Baptist Church
El Tímpano (Logo)
El Timpano
Homies Empowerment (Logo)
Homies Empowerment
Oakland Workers Fund (Logo)
Oakland Workers Fund
VACCEB (Logo)
Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay
CERI East Bay (Logo)
Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants (CERI)
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Roots Community Health Center
The Unity Council (Logo)
The Unity Council
St. Mary's Center (Logo)
St. Mary's Center
Boss (Logo)
Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS)

What are Partner Responsibilities?

  1. Develop a campaign to build awareness around new and existing digital inclusion programs and resources such as the Emergency Broadband Benefit, OakWifi, LifeLine, free or low-cost broadband plans and digital skills-based workforce development programs. The campaign should effectively reach 150+ Oakland residents.
    • The Greenlining Institute and EveryoneOn will provide partner organizations and their staff with ongoing support that includes informational materials and training sessions that cover best practices for outreach, challenges with low-cost services, lessons from previous efforts as well as a comprehensive explanation of all programs and resources.
  2. Identify and recruit a cohort of 15 Oakland residents that have basic digital literacy needs and are interested in a guided course on how to navigate and use the internet.
    • The Greenlining Institute and partner organizations will connect this cohort to an online 4-6 week digital literacy training program provided by EveryoneOn. The Greenlining Institute will provide these 15 participants with laptops from The Tech Exchange. These devices come with a one year warranty and technical support. Participants in the digital literacy program will be able to keep these laptops at the conclusion of the program. Partners can request up to 10 additional devices to distribute to community members that need them but are not otherwise participating in the digital literacy program.
  3. Collect at least 100 survey responses from Oakland residents on their internet access needs and experiences.
  4. At the conclusion of the program, draft a short report describing the campaign, feedback from staff and participants and lessons for other organizations that may do this work in the future.

Who are Priority Community Members?

Priority community members and neighborhoods are those that are less likely to have broadband access. This includes:

  • Low-Income residents ($51,500 or less)
  • Unhoused Residents
  • Latino Residents
  • Re-entry populations
  • Immigrants and English second language residents
  • Senior Residents
  • Black Residents
  • Indigenous Residents

Oakland's Equity Zones

Oakland Equity Zones

For a closer view of this map, please use this link.

image (1)

For the adoption map, please use this link.

Which Organizations are Eligible?

We are looking to create strategic partnerships with 10 community based organizations to assist in conducting outreach. These organizations can be, but are not limited to:

  • Community Health Organizations
  • Direct Services Organizations
  • Community Centers
  • Local Chambers of Commerce
  • Cultural Centers
  • Faith-Based Organizations

Any other local organizations that regularly work with priority community members.

For more detailed information on the program and application process, download and review the PDF form below.

If your organization is interested in partnering, or if you know an organization that may be interested and would like more information, please contact Vinhcent Le at vinhcentl@greenlining.org.

Resources for TownLink Partners

Learn More About the Town Link Program

Want to learn more about the capacity building strategy and racial equity principles behind the The TownLink Program? Check out this helpful background resource.

Find Low-Cost Offers at EveryoneOn

You can determine your eligibility for various digital literacy, affordability, and assistance programs at EveryoneOn.

California Lifeline 

The California LifeLine Program (California LifeLine) is a state program that provides discounted home phone and cell phone services to eligible households. The California LifeLine discounts help consumers lower the cost of their phone bills. 

Laptop Access and Digital Literacy Trainings 

Need to purchase an affordable device to connect to internet? Find low-cost refurbished computers, equipment, and other devices for individuals and groups via Internet for All for NOW or TechExchange 

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Oakland Workforce Development Organizations

For organizations or those who are looking for workforce development opportunities, the following groups provide classes, training and other resources in digital work including coding, IT, design, and more. 

Tech Balance

Healthy media habits start at home, but many parents don't know how to begin teaching children how to engage with technology in a balanced way. Visit Common Sense Media to sign up to receive free tips and expert advice via text on how to build healthy technology habits for kids.

Emergency Broadband Benefit & Affordability Connectivity Program

The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) and the Affordability Connectivity Program (ACP) are federal public benefit programs that assist in paying for broadband plans. EBB will no longer be active after December 30, 2021, and will be replaced by the Affordability Connectivity Program. Both programs provide a monthly discount for broadband services, and a one-time discount for a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. EBB and ACP have different eligibility standards, with ACP being more inclusive in their eligibility requirements. For those who are already fully enrolled in EBB, they will automatically be rolled into the ACP transition.

Qualifications

To qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) discount, at least one person in your household must meet one of the following criteria: 

    • Household with child enrolled in CEP School Designated by the National School Lunch Program
    • Recipient of CalFresh or Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Recipient of Medi-Cal or Supplemental Security Income
    • Student with Pell Grant
    • Recipient of Federal Public Housing Assistance Household
    • Household of 4 earning $53,000 or less a year 
    • Recipient of the Women, Children and Infant Benefit 
    • Participant in Tribal Programs for Residents on Qualifying Tribal Lands 
    • Recipient of the Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
    • Recipient of Tribal TANF
    • Participant in Tribal Head Start (must meet relevant income qualifying standard)
    • Recipient of a Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
    • Acceptable Documentation for ACP

Flyers and Resources for Community Members

EBB and EBB Transition to ACP Resources*

*EducationSuperHighway will be updating this information with ACP

Difference from EBB to ACP
In-Language Resources 
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