What Equity Means to Me: Cox Communications

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Equity. It is a term heard a lot these days. And yet, if you ask 10 people what it means, you might get 10 different answers. As OCG prepares for our 2020 Summit, “Equity in Action: Stories of Innovation & Collaboration” we are pleased to share with you how different members of our community understand, and most importantly, put into practice, equity. Together, we can move Orange County forward, implementing and aligning with the 10 +1 next steps as recommended in the OC Equity Profile.

Our fifth blog post comes from Cox Communications, Presenting Sponsor of the OCG 2020 Summit. They share a post by Colleen Dillaway, Director of Public Affairs on how they are working to bridge the digital divide.

Cox Communications’ Commitment to Bridge the Digital Divide  

By Colleen Dillaway, Director of Public Affairs, Cox Communications

#NowMoreThanEver, it’s everyone’s job to keep connecting  

One way that we’ve connected with the education community this year was by granting $50,000 in Innovation in Education grants to local school districts and the Orange County Department of Education. The grant program was originally established in 2014 to support teachers at eligible schools who were enhancing the traditional classroom experience by providing creative and technology-based curriculum for their students but this year we looked at the education landscape and awarded school districts in order to support their tech needs as they prepared to go back-to-school virtually amid the pandemic. Since its inception, Cox has awarded over $300,000 in grants to help fund technology and innovative programs for students in grades K-12. 

“We are extremely grateful to Cox Communications for continuing to make valuable investments in our schools and students through the Innovation in Education initiative,” said Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares. “Across the state, educators are working hard to provide robust distance learning with limited resources. This latest round of grant funding will help OCDE acquire essential Chromebooks and iPads to support students in our Deaf and Hard of Hearing program with both online learning and in-person instruction.”

We’re helping where we can, and where we know it counts. Cox Business in Orange County recently worked with the Orange County Rescue Mission to increase their bandwidth to support students distance learning this fall and provided the organization with six new laptop devices to help bridge the digital divide.

Additional offerings to bridge the digital divide and support digital equity

We know that a high-speed internet connection is the cornerstone to the digital classroom. That’s why throughout the pandemic, Cox has implemented several programs to help families connect from home. Recently, the company announced a new offer for new qualifying families who sign up before December 31 to receive Connect2Compete, our low-cost internet program, free for 2 months including free remote technical support just in time for back-to-school. Families who have K-12 students on the free or reduced lunch program, or any of several other federal assistance programs, can qualify for Connect2Compete easily from their mobile device or desktop by visiting  www.cox.com/c2c.

Cox Communications’ President and CEO Pat Esser also announced in a live press conference on September 29 that that Cox will pledge $60 million over the next year to close the digital learning gap. Pat urged in the press conference the need for collaboration to solve the digital divide. 

“Our commitment remains strong, but we cannot do this alone. We need to keep partnering with cities, school districts, counties and community-based organizations to get families connected,” said Pat. “Connection is more important than ever before, especially for kids.” Further, Cox is powering a new digital learning platform available to Connect2Compete customers to keep kids engaged in academics. MyFuture is The Boys & Girls Club of America’s digital platform that empowers children and teens to learn new skills, share accomplishments and earn recognition and rewards via gamification in a safe and fun online environment. Customers can easily access this tool in Cox’s Digital Academy, an online learning platform full of computer literacy tips, educational videos, tutorials and interactive games.

The Cox Connect2Compete program is available to families who:

  • have at least one child that is a K-12 student at home
  • participate in one of these government subsidies programs: The National School Lunch Program, SNAP, TANF, Head Start, WIC, LIHEAP, or Public Housing 

To help parents help their children learn from home, Cox has provided several tips and resources available on the company’s content hub Converge. Click here to learn more.

For more information on Cox’s coronavirus relief efforts, visit cox.com.

Colleen Dillaway is Director of Public Affairs for Cox Communications in California.

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A Statement from OCG

At Orange County Grantmakers, we are committed to supporting an inclusive and equitable Orange County where all people, no matter their race, ethnicity, or religious

How do we build a compassionate and inclusive America in an age of distrust? WAJAHAT ALI knows from personal experience that when we come together to be the superheroes of our own stories, we can create honest social change. The beloved TED speaker has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic about our urgent issues—immigration, politics, parenthood—with boldness, hope, and humor. His memoir Go Back to Where You Came From, one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year, follows his life as a Muslim Pakistani-American on a surprising, emotional, and challenging quest for the good life. Iconic journalist Katie Couric says that “we are all so fortunate to be on the receiving end of his intellect, his humanity, and his heart.”

Wajahat Ali

“With wit and charm, Ali delivers a masterful meditation on growing up brown in America...he gives us a clear-eyed affirmation of the country America could be.” — Mara Gay, New York Times

Wajahat Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. The Daily Beast columnist and former New York Times writer, TED speaker, award-winning playwright, and Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims offers us his experiences of triumph over hardship as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of life’s impossible situations. From his experiences of Islamophobia growing up as a Muslim Pakistani-American to his two-year-old daughter’s liver cancer diagnosis, Wajahat is living proof that when we share our authentic stories, we build the America we wish to live in.”

In his memoir Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American, Wajahat teaches us how to create our own superhero origin story, invest in hope for the future of America, and enact real social change. The book was called “biting and funny and full of heart” by NPR. Representative Ilhan Omar called Wajahat’s work “hilarious” and “deeply moving”, and legendary writer Dave Eggers said it was the book he’d “been hoping Wajahat Ali would write for ten years—hilarious, stylistically fearless, deeply humane.”

Wajahat is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim-Americans in a post-9/11 world. He was the lead researcher and author for the Center for American Progress’s seminal report “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and served as a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America, where he told stories about communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media.

As Creative Director of Affinis Wajahat Labs, he worked to create social entrepreneurship initiatives to support and uplift marginalized communities. He also worked with the US State Department to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. Wajahat initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. For his work, he was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and recognized as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. 

He has given keynote speeches around the world such as TED, The Aspen Ideas Festival, Google, the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival. His writing appears regularly in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, the Washington Post, and The Guardian. He’s a Senior Fellow at The Western States Center and Auburn Seminary and co-host of Al Jazeera’s The Stream.