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Addressing California’s Digital Divide: PG&E Supports Oakland and Statewide Initiatives to Boost Technology Access for Young Students

05/25/2021

$1 Million in Charitable Contributions to Fund Internet Access, Computers, Tech Support, Innovation Challenge

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- At a time when access to technology and tech support has never been more critical, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is continuing its ongoing commitment to digital access in education. Today, PG&E announced two charitable contributions totaling $1 million: funding for #OaklandUndivided to purchase computers and internet hot spots and provide tech support for students; and funding for Closing the Digital Divide, a California Department of Education initiative including an innovation challenge and technology literacy programs.

“PG&E is committed to empowering underserved communities and advancing social justice,” said Patti Poppe, PG&E Corporation Chief Executive Officer. “These contributions are helping to ensure that students and families in diverse communities, including in our new headquarters hometown of Oakland, have the necessary technology and the literacy to use it. Our goal is to help them succeed in a world where computers and connectivity are as essential as the gas and electric service that we work so hard to safely and reliably provide every day.”

“PG&E recognizes that it is critical to seize this moment to address an inequity that has always existed but has been exacerbated by the pandemic. #OaklandUndivided has increased access to technology for low-income students from 12% pre-pandemic to 98% today. We have proven that when the community comes together we can overcome any obstacles. But we are not done yet—we are grateful for PG&E being one of the first to commit to investing in phase 2 of #OaklandUndivided to keep our students connected into the next school year. We hope that more will follow their lead and join our movement to close the digital divide for good,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

“There is no question the investments we choose in this moment must help our schools urgently and immediately to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The conditions of this past year have exacerbated long-standing inequities that existed in public education. It is critical that we provide the resources and opportunities to accelerate learning and address the learning gaps that have disproportionately impacted our students of color and low-income students, and that means continuing to address the digital divide by connecting students to devices and broadband so they can equitably access 21st century learning. I commend PG&E for their continued partnership in this area and thank them for the commitments made to providing a brighter future for all students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Ongoing Investment in #OaklandUndivided

This year, PG&E will build upon The PG&E Corporation Foundation’s past investment in #OaklandUndivided, an effort to ensure every student in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) who needs technology at home has a computer, internet connection and technology support across multiple languages.

In 2021, PG&E will contribute $500,000 to phase 2 of #OaklandUndivided to buy computers for students and families to use at home along with internet hot spots and technical support. This investment will not only directly serve students and families across Oakland, but also encourage other partners to join PG&E in investing in phase 2 of #OaklandUndivided to meet a $6 million gap to keep all students in need connected in 2021-2022 before the next phase is officially launched on July 1. For more information on #OaklandUndivided or how to get involved, visit oaklandundivided.org.

In 2020, The PG&E Corporation Foundation made an initial investment in #OaklandUndivided, in partnership with the Oakland A’s Foundation, to support Parker Elementary School. #OaklandUndivided has provided more than 28,000 computers, 10,000 hot spots, and responded to more than 10,000 requests for tech support in a year that has increased access to computers, internet and tech support from 12% pre-pandemic to 98% today for African American, Latinx and students from low-income backgrounds across Oakland public schools. #OaklandUndivided is a collaboration among OUSD, the City of Oakland and Mayor Libby Schaaf, Tech Exchange, the Oakland Public Education Fund, and Oakland Promise.

Continued Funding for California Closing the Digital Divide

PG&E also is contributing $500,000 to the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation (CDEF) to support the new California Department of Education (CDE) Digital Divide Innovation Challenge and various technology literacy programs.

Launched earlier this year by CDE, the challenge is a competition that will award $1 million to the best proposals to expand high-speed internet access to all Californians. Interested applicants can email innovationchallenge@cde.ca.gov.

CDE’s Digital Literacy Family Engagement program and Digital Literacy Professional Development program will serve vulnerable communities, delivering to educators, students, and families critical digital literacy skills.

This contribution builds on PG&E’s $500,000 contribution to the CDE Foundation in September 2020. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many students started school last fall in distance learning, but did not have computers or internet connections needed to succeed. At the recommendation of the CDE Foundation, PG&E’s 2020 grant to Humboldt County served low-income students in some of the most remote portions of its service area. The funds were used to purchase 1,000 computers and internet hot spots for students.

Support for Nonprofits Promoting Social Justice

PG&E is also empowering its 25,000 employees to support organizations dedicated to elevating diverse voices. From May through June, employees who make individual contributions to select nonprofits that advance diversity, equity and inclusion, will receive a contribution match from The PG&E Corporation Foundation, up to $100,000. This is one of several matching donation programs the company offers its employees each year.

Charitable contributions made by PG&E and by The PG&E Corporation Foundation are not funded by PG&E customers.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.

About #OaklandUndivided

#OaklandUndivided is a public-private partnership whose vision is to close the digital divide led by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, The City of Oakland, Oakland Unified School District, Oakland Promise, Oakland Public Education Fund, and Tech Exchange. Its mission is to ensure every Oakland public school student has access to a computer, Internet connection, and technology support and #OaklandUndivided has distributed over 28,000 devices and increased connectivity from 12% to 98%. To learn more about our city-wide movement or help us launch phase 2 to keep our students connected, contact Dsilver@oaklandca.gov, Director of Education for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf or go to oaklandundivided.org.

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Source: PG&E Corporation

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