San Antonio’s Digital Equity Work Is in the National Spotlight
SAN ANTONIO — National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) is set to host its largest Net Inclusion conference yet in San Antonio, February 28 through March 2.
NDIA supports over 1,100 organizations doing digital inclusion work and advocacy across the country. According to the organization’s definitions, which have been codified into federal law, “digital inclusion” refers to the activities necessary to ensure all individuals, including the most disadvantaged people, have access to and use of information and communication technologies. Digital inclusion activities include providing affordable, high-speed internet, appropriate devices, access to digital skills training, and technical support.
Net Inclusion 2023 Highlights
What: Net Inclusion, annual conference
Who: Hosted by National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)
Notable Speakers & Attendees: Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo; San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (Wednesday, March 1, 9 a.m.); Texas Broadband Director Greg Conte; Joseph Wender, Director, Capital Projects Fund US Department of the Treasury; and Angela Siefer, NDIA executive director
When: February 28-March 2
Where: Hemisfair Ballroom, 3rd Floor, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, 900 East Market Street, San Antonio, TX
The first Net Inclusion conference kicked off in Kansas City in 2016, with about 200 attendees, with last year’s in Portland, Oregon, with 330 attendees. This year’s Net Inclusion in San Antonio will welcome a record 800 digital inclusion leaders. Main sessions on Wednesday, March 1 and Thursday, March 2 will be livestreamed free by NDIA and available here.
“The number of people here at Net Inclusion is a testament to the quality of our programming and how far the digital inclusion field has come,” said Angela Siefer, NDIA executive director. “From San Antonio, to rural Maine, to San Francisco, to the Gila River Indian Reservation – our communities are eager to include those left behind and to make digital equity a reality. We’re bringing together our collective work in these three days, and we’re all so excited to feel the power of our movement.”
San Antonio’s Digital Inclusion Ecosystem
NDIA selected San Antonio as a conference location because of its digital equity leadership – including within Digital Inclusion Alliance of San Antonio – and the digital inclusion collaboration and innovation in the region. Conference attendees will learn from these local heroes. On February 28, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., over 150 Net Inclusion attendees will go on San Antonio Community Site Tours to locations that are engaging in digital inclusion work locally:
- Opportunity House San Antonio, Contact: Michael Reyes, [email protected]
Since 2013, Opportunity Home has been working to narrow the digital divide — starting with linking 50 community rooms with free broadband internet access. Recognizing the need in San Antonio, in July 2020 they allocated $4 million for the Wi-Fi Expansion Initiative, providing no-cost internet access to more than 50,000 residents. “Narrowing the digital divide is one of the most important challenges we have to conquer in San Antonio,” said Jo Ana Alvarado, director of innovative technology at Opportunity House.
- Goodwill Industries of San Antonio, Contact: Libby Castillo, [email protected]
Goodwill San Antonio provides essential career education, training, and employment services to vulnerable residents. In 2022, the organization provided job readiness training that assisted 1,114 individuals to gain employment. Additionally, 397 individuals enrolled in an education program, 318 earned a recognized credential, and 259 participated in digital literacy training.
- San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT), Contact: Dr. Cliff Zintgraff, [email protected]
SAMSAT served 21,000 San Antonio residents in 2022, while addressing digital inclusion activities across its programs. SAMSAT operated Microsoft GetDigital, training 70 volunteer computer literacy trainers. In 2020, in the SA Smart Mayor’s Challenge, 300 students between grades 7 and 12 proposed ideas to address digital inclusion locally. SAMSAT plans to award 180 laptops to program participants between Jan 2022 and June 2023.
- Family Service Teen Tech Center, Contact: Hilario Moreno, [email protected]
Since 1903, Family Service has been serving San Antonio and surrounding communities by addressing the opportunities and barriers in people’s lives created by where they live, learn, work, play, and age that affects their overall well-being. The Best Buy Teen Tech Center provides a safe space for youth to find and follow their passions to use technology to create.
- Empower House, Contact: Dallana Camago, [email protected]
Empower House provides communities with digital equity opportunities, including assistance with affordable internet access, devices, and digital literacy classes and workshops at their Community Station Lab.
- San Antonio Public Library, Contact: Victoria Villarreal, [email protected]
San Antonio Public Library strives to advance the three core aspects of digital inclusion: internet connection, access to devices, and digital literacy. Wi-Fi access is available at 29 library locations. In addition, 550 desktop computers are available, as well as laptops that are available for checkout and use within library facilities. At seven library locations, staff offer “Learn at SAPL,” a service focused on digital literacy along with job searching.
Click below see a full schedule for Net Inclusion 2023 and watch the conference livestream on Wednesday, March 1, and Thursday, March 2.