Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Joins State of California Fund to Help Bridge the Digital Divide During COVID-19 Pandemic

Apr 20, 2020

CZI Commits $1 Million to Help Provide Internet Access and Other Distance Learning Supports for Hundreds of Thousands of Underserved Communities Across California

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Photograph by Petri Oeschger | Getty Images.
Photograph by Petri Oeschger | Getty Images.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is committing $1 million to support the State of California’s efforts to provide distance learning and bridge the digital divide. Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom announced CZI’s investment during a press conference updating Californians about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. 

“We’re honored to support the Fund and help ensure that students in underserved communities are able to keep learning during this difficult time,” said Sandra Liu Huang, Head of Education, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “Making sure that we close the digital learning gap as quickly as possible has become even more vitally important as this pandemic progresses and under-resourced communities disproportionately bear the impact.” 

Approximately one in five students in California lack high-speed Internet or an appropriate computing device at home. In a parent survey, 50 percent of low-income families and 42 percent of families of color reported that they lacked the laptop, Chromebook, or tablet needed to access distance learning

“School may be physically closed, but class is still in session,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “But for class to be in session, it is imperative that California addresses the inequities in access to computers, technology tools and connectivity to ensure that online learning can in fact reach all of California’s children. It’s inspiring to see parents, teachers, businesses and philanthropy step up to meet this moment and provide tools to help bridge the digital divide and get more students connected.”

In total, over the past month,  CZI has committed more than $7 million to support student learning and well-being — including  resources to help communities impacted by school closures due to COVID-19 as they transition to distance learning. This commitment also includes a $200,000 grant to EducationSuperHighway to support the Digital Bridge project’s nationwide efforts to provide connectivity and support for thousands of students across the country from underserved communities. 

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is committed to ensuring that every student — not just a lucky few — can get an education that’s tailored to their needs and supports every aspect of their development. To help ensure that educators and families are equipped with the necessary tools and information during this transition to distance learning, several of CZI grant partners and portfolio companies have made resources available for educators and families. For more information go to chanzuckerberg.com/covid-19/resources/education/.

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About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit www.chanzuckerberg.com.