EDINBURG, Texas – AT&T has acknowledged that there is a “digital divide” in the Rio Grande Valley.
At a news conference held at a UT-Rio Grande Valley facility in Edinburg last week, AT&T’s J.D. Salinas said the AT&T Foundation would be donating $25,000 to the Rio Grande Valley Partnership “to support South Texans impacted by the digital divide.”
Salinas is assistant vice president for external and legislative affairs at AT&T. During a legislative update webinar hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce that was held in December, 2020, Salinas said 94 percent of Texans had access to broadband. Salinas said at the time:
“We as a company are concerned about the digital divide and public data has shown that 94 percent of Texans have availability for broadband throughout the state of Texas. The issue may be digital literacy or not having the right equipment. But we wanted to ask you, what is it that the legislators can do this year to work with private industry to try to help close that digital divide?”
Three Valley legislators were on the webinar – state Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen, and state Reps. Terry Canales of Edinburg and R.D. ‘Bobby’ Guerra of McAllen. In response to the digital divide the Legislature in 2021 set up the Statewide Broadband Development Office.
At last week’s news conference, Salinas said his company was investing $2 billion across the country over the next three years to bridge the digital divide.
With the funding, RGV Partnership is to ask UTRGV to provide courses to help those with limited or no computer or internet skills. UTRGV says it will provide instruction in four centers across the Valley, one in each of the region’s four counties.
“I am honored to announce today, that together with UTRGV and the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, and with the leadership of Senator Hinojosa (without him we would not be here today), AT&T is giving a $25,000 grant through the AT&T Foundation to the RGV Partnership to support South Texans impacted by the digital divide,” Salinas said.
“This grant is part of AT&T’s recent announcement (of a) nationwide commitment to bridge the digital divide and homework gap. AT&T is committing more than $2 billion over the next three years to bridge that digital divide through affordable broadband offers for both consumers and education institutions, as well as high quality educational resources, community investments through AT&T’s Connected Learning (program).”
Appearing with Salinas at the news conference were Sergio Contreras, representing the RGV Partnership, Sen. Hinojosa, and three representatives from UTRGV – Veronica Gonzales, Ron Garza, and Linda Ufland Romo.
The attached podcast features remarks given at the news conference by AT&T’s Salinas, along with interviews with RGVP’s Contreras and UTRGV’s Ufland Romo.
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