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Background on the Digital Divide and East Palo Alto, California

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The President's New Markets Trip:
From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity

April 17 - 18, 2000


Office of the Press Secretary
(East Palo Alto, California)

For Immediate Release April 17, 2000

APRIL 17, 2000

THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: Access to computers and the Internet and the ability touse this technology effectively are becoming increasingly important forfull 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 thedivisions that exist within American society.

The Gap Between High and Low Income Americans is Increasing. 80 percent ofhouseholds with an income of $75,000 or above have computers, compared to16 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 ofhouseholds with a bachelor's degree or higher have computers, compared to16 percent of those households that have not completed high (Dept. ofCommerce, "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 ofAfrican-American households and 26 percent of Hispanic households (Dept. ofCommerce, "Falling Through The Net," July 1999).

SILICON VALLEY: In the past 20 years, Silicon Valley has played a leadingrole in fostering the digital revolution that is sweeping the globe. Thisrevolution has led to the productivity gains that have helped create thelongest economic expansion in U.S. history. The Silicon Valley hasprofited handsomely from the innovation of its residents; the region hasbecome one of the most prosperous communities in our nation.

  • Silicon Valley has created more than 275,000 new jobs since 1992 (CAEmployment Development Dept, 1999).

  • Median family income has soared to $87,000 per year - the thirdhighest in the country (Dept of HUD, 2000).

  • The median price of a house in the Silicon Valley is $410,000, morethan twice the median price in rest of the country (CaliforniaReal Estate Association, 1999).

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 lowestproperty values in San Mateo county (Association of Bay Area Governments,Projections, 1998).

  • Demographics: With a population that is 53 percent Hispanic, 36 percentAfrican-American, 12 percent white, and 8 percent Asian and PacificIslander, East Palo Alto celebrates its diversity (Claritas, 1999). TheHispanic population has grown rapidly in the last 10 years with Latinoscomprising 64 percent of the school-age children (California Dept. ofEducation, 1999).

  • Economic Vitality: The City is engaged in an ambitious redevelopmentinitiative. Nevertheless, there is only one large employer in thecommunity, a situation that narrows the tax base and obliges many residentsto make long commutes to work each day. There is no bank, majorsupermarket, and other key service-oriented businesses in the city (City ofEast Palo Alto, 1999).

  • Poverty: Over 80 percent of K-8 students are eligible for free orreduced-price lunches(California Dept. of Education, 1999).

  • Education: There is only one computer for every 28 students in East PaloAlto schools, as compared to the 1-to-9 ratio for the entire state. Only60 percent of residents have a high school diploma or its equivalent(California Dept. of Education, 1999; City of East Palo Alto, 1999).


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