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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

San Ysidro Gets Connected To The World Wide Web

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The Internet is something many of us take for granted. But for families in San Ysidro, it’s considered a luxury. Now a new project is bridging the digital divide in this border city.

— The Internet is something many of us take for granted. But for families in San Ysidro, it’s considered a luxury. Now a new project is bridging the digital divide in this border city.

Two housing projects with roughly 900 families in this border city are now equipped with free broadband access.

Casa Familiar, San Diego County's Office of Education, 1Economy, and AT&T helped to bring the free connection into homes.

Isabella Cepeda said her family has never had Internet access.

“We have a computer but we don’t have money to pay for Internet service,” she said. “Now when my son has homework, he can do it at home instead of waiting in line for a computer at the library.”

Data show the majority of families in San Ysidro live at or below the poverty line. Close to 60 percent of residents don't have a high school diploma.

Organizers say the free service will expose adults and kids to research and information that most of us take for granted.

A group of tech savvy students will help the new users get up-to-speed. San Ysidro high school senior Carla Hernandez, who does have Internet access at home, says this makes life a lot easier for her neighbors.

“Neighbors always ask me if I could research something for them,” Hernandez said. “Their knowledge and their skills are low … but I know that I could help them.”

There is, however, another hurdle.

Almost half of the families that have a free connection do not own computers. Organizers are working hard to collect donated equipment.

San Diego County’s School Superintendent Randy Ward told parents that do have a computer need to use the Internet as a powerful educational tool for their families.

“It is not automatic that having internet access will crate higher achieving children,” Ward said. “If you are not involved, it doesn't do anything.”

The families will have free access for three years. Organizers are working to extend that time.

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