(First published at KPCC Southern California Public Radio. For more information about Latinos and the digital divide, click here. For Californians who want low-cost high-speed internet at home, dial 2-1-1. Outside of California: visit www.everyoneon.org)
The Spanish-speaking announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers is the new face of a campaign urging Latinos to get high-speed Internet.
As the Spanish voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jaime Jarrin is known for calling plays. But in a new public service campaign, Jarrin’s the one making the pitch.
"Are you looking for work?" he asks in a new public service announcement. "Do you want your children to have access to the best education possible?"
What you need, he says, is high-speed internet.
The PSA, rolling out this week on Spanish-language radio and television, is the work of the National Hispanic Media Coalition
and California 211
, the statewide helpline and referral service.
When it comes to broadband access, Latinos lag other Californians, according tosurveys
"Only about 50 percent of Latino families are connected. The number is much lower for Spanish-dominant Latinos - it's under 40 percent," said Jessica Gonzalez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
The public service announcement urges people to call "2-1-1," which will provide information on providers of low-cost broadband service - the cheapest is $10.99 - and discount programs for computers.
The programs are open to everybody, but Gonzalez said it was particularly critical to target Latinos at this time. Next year all students in California schools have to take their standardized testing on-line
Many Latino young people use cell phones, said Gonzalez, but she worries students won’t know their way around a computer to feel comfortable taking a test on it.
“Even just the basic learning where the keys are, learning where the letters are, learning how to click to the very next page, for kids who don’t have a computer at home, it’s not second nature," Gonzalez said.
California 211 director Lilian Coral said more and more, you need a computer for tasks such as signing up for health insurance or filling out a job application.
"A lot of employment and educational services are going fully online," Coral said. "We know that some of the maternal and child welfare resources are also going on-line.
The Latino-focused public information campaign is part of a years-long effort by California 2-1-1- to expand broadband access among low-income households, with funding help from the California Emerging Technologies Fund and Federal Communications Commission.
Coral said the goal is to get high-speed Internet into 8,700 homes over the next year-and-a-half.
Check out Jarrin's new PSA here: