AUSTIN, Texas — As COVID-19 forces us to be more reliant on technology to stay connected, a Texas nonprofit is leading a movement to expand access to the internet.
The Austin Urban Technology Movement launched its Texas Technology for All campaign. Their goal is to ensure every household in Texas has free broadband internet and the technology to use it, especially in underserved minority communities.
AUTM President and CEO Michael Ward Jr. said it's the organization's way to make sure the people in those communities aren’t left behind as technology continues to evolve.
“We’re moving where the majority of the United States is now no longer going to be non-white,” Ward said. “We’re now putting a direct foundation or tools to ensure the success of our non-white community.”
The nonprofit also wants to create more opportunities for people in those communities to break into the tech industry. Ward said teaching folks how to use that technology is key to sparking interest in tech-related jobs.
“People believe that having access to a device will solve the problem, but that’s not necessarily the case,” Ward said. “You have to have the internet, you have to understand the device you’re using, you have to understand what type of products or applications that are on the device that your school wants you to use, or your job.”
The campaign includes a petition calling for Gov. Greg Abbott to include AUTM on the state’s broadband development council and Operation Connectivity, the governor’s initiative to bring internet and technology to Texas school districts. Ward says it gives the group a seat at the table in the capitol to push for the types of changes they say Texas needs.