Free Chromebooks, tablets, Wi-Fi available for some income-eligible Stockton residents

Hundreds of Stockton residents have received their own laptops, tablets, and even internet service for free as part of the Digital Equity Project, which was created during the pandemic and funded through federal aid such as the American Rescue Plan Act. With the ARPA money, the city purchased over 1,500 Chromebooks, hot spots, and 500 data-enabled tablets. The devices come with three years of prepaid internet access service. Through census data, city officials found “digital deserts” and worked to prioritize some of the most underserved communities. Stockton Mayor Kevin J. Lincoln II said that access to computers and the internet has gone from being a luxury to a necessity in the last two years.”What we’ve learned through COVID is that many things have now gone online. There’s a lot of telehealth that’s taken place, so we want our constituents to have the resources to have better health outcomes and also better job opportunities.” The first phases of the program required an income and address eligibility. Jenny Fontanilla, the deputy director city librarian for the Stockton San Joaquín County Public Library, adds that 20-25% of Stockton households don’t have home internet, “so they’re relying on cellphones or public spaces for their wifi access.” The American Community Survey found that households relying on smartphones to access internet services were more likely to make $25,000 or less, be headed by someone under 35 years, or have a Black or Hispanic household member. A US Census Bureau report released in 2021, showed that smartphone ownership surpassed ownership of all other computing devices and was present in 84% of households, while 78% of households owned a desktop or laptop. Tablet ownership was at 63%. The report also found that higher rates of internet subscription were found in higher-income households. Lower subscription rates included families who rented, households that speak limited English, and households with at least one person who was disabled. On Tuesday morning, dozens of families stood outside the Fair Oaks Library to take advantage of the city’s support. Several of those people told KCRA 3 that they’re paying too much for internet services. Savannah Jones, a mother of five who’s going to school herself, said the beginning of this school year has been tough as they’re all sharing one computer at home. She was number 106 in line just before noon. Jones is convinced that resources like these have the potential to change the future of Stockton. “I believe if they come together and do more stuff like this — especially for the youth — maybe it can turn around all this violence that’s going on.” The last distribution is happening on Friday. Here’s how you can check if you are income-eligible. You can also email StocktonDigitalEquity@stocktonca.gov or call 209-937-8545. The city did not say how many devices will be available.

Hundreds of Stockton residents have received their own laptops, tablets, and even internet service for free as part of the Digital Equity Projectwhich was created during the pandemic and funded through federal aid such as the American Rescue Plan Act.

With the ARPA money, the city purchased over 1,500 Chromebooks, hot spots, and 500 data-enabled tablets. The devices come with three years of prepaid internet access service.

Through census data, city officials found “digital deserts” and worked to prioritize some of the most underserved communities.

Stockton Mayor Kevin J. Lincoln II said that access to computers and the internet has gone from being a luxury to a necessity in the last two years.

“What we’ve learned through COVID is that many things have now gone online. There’s a lot of telehealth that’s taken place, so we want our constituents to have the resources to have better health outcomes and also better job opportunities.”

The first phases of the program require income and address eligibility.

Jenny Fontanilla, the deputy director city librarian for the Stockton San Joaquín County Public Library, adds that 20-25% of Stockton households don’t have home internet, “so they’re relying on cellphones or public spaces for their wifi access.”

The American Community Survey found that households relying on smartphones to access internet services were more likely to make $25,000 or less, be headed by someone under 35 years old, or have a Black or Hispanic household member.

A US Census Bureau report released in 2021, showed that smartphone ownership surpassed ownership of all other computing devices and was present in 84% of households, while 78% of households owned a desktop or laptop. Tablet ownership was at 63%.

The report also found that higher rates of internet subscription were found in higher-income households.

Lower subscription rates included families who rented, households that speak limited English, and households with at least one person who was disabled.

On Tuesday morning, dozens of families stood outside the Fair Oaks Library to take advantage of the city’s support.

Several of those people told KCRA 3 that they’re paying too much for internet services.

Savannah Jones, a mother of five who’s going to school herself, said the beginning of this school year has been tough as they’re all sharing one computer at home.

She was number 106 in line just before noon.

Jones is convinced that resources like these have the potential to change the future of Stockton.

“I believe if they come together and do more stuff like this — especially for the youth — maybe it can turn around all this violence that’s going on.”

The last distribution is happening on Friday. Here’s how you can check if you are income-eligible. You can also email StocktonDigitalEquity@stocktonca.gov or call 209-937-8545.

The city did not say how many devices will be available.

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