THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
BACKGROUND ON THE DIGITAL DIVIDE AND EAST PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA
APRIL 17, 2000
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: Access to computers and the Internet and the ability to use this technology effectively are becoming increasingly important for full participation in America's economic, political and social life. Unfortunately, unequal access to technology and high-tech skills by income, educational level, race, and geography could deepen and reinforce the divisions that exist within American society.
The Gap Between High and Low Income Americans is Increasing. 80 percent of households with an income of $75,000 or above have computers, compared to 16 percent of households earning $10,000 - $15,000 (Dept. of Commerce, "Falling Through The Net," July 1999).
Better Educated Americans More Likely to Be Connected. 69 percent of households with a bachelor's degree or higher have computers, compared to 16 percent of those households that have not completed high (Dept. of Commerce, "Falling Through The Net," July 1999). Whites More Likely to be Connected than African-Americans and Hispanics. 47 percent of white households have computers, compared to 23 percent of African-American households and 26 percent of Hispanic households (Dept. of Commerce, "Falling Through The Net," July 1999).
SILICON VALLEY: In the past 20 years, Silicon Valley has played a leading role in fostering the digital revolution that is sweeping the globe. This revolution has led to the productivity gains that have helped create the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. The Silicon Valley has profited handsomely from the innovation of its residents; the region has become one of the most prosperous communities in our nation.
EAST PALO ALTO: East Palo Alto has missed out on much of this prosperity. While there has been progress and the city is working to attract employers, East Palo Alto continues to struggle with a relatively high poverty rate, the largest high school dropout rate in the Bay Area, and the lowest property values in San Mateo county (Association of Bay Area Governments, Projections, 1998).
Demographics: With a population that is 53 percent Hispanic, 36 percent African-American, 12 percent white, and 8 percent Asian and Pacific Islander, East Palo Alto celebrates its diversity (Claritas, 1999). The Hispanic population has grown rapidly in the last 10 years with Latinos comprising 64 percent of the school-age children (California Dept. of Education, 1999).
Economic Vitality: The City is engaged in an ambitious redevelopment initiative. Nevertheless, there is only one large employer in the community, a situation that narrows the tax base and obliges many residents to make long commutes to work each day. There is no bank, major supermarket, and other key service-oriented businesses in the city (City of East Palo Alto, 1999).
Poverty: Over 80 percent of K-8 students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches (California Dept. of Education, 1999).
Education: There is only one computer for every 28 students in East Palo Alto schools, as compared to the 1-to-9 ratio for the entire state. Only 60 percent of residents have a high school diploma or its equivalent (California Dept. of Education, 1999; City of East Palo Alto, 1999).