Farm Discovery & Cruzio: Bringing Internet Learning to a Farm Setting

A student logs into school outside at the Live Earth Farm

For Farm Discovery – a nonprofit that connects our community’s youth to a deeper understanding of agriculture, food, and the environment–2020 was set to be their biggest season yet. They expected to have 3,000 kids at their Live Earth Farm in Pajaro Valley that year between school field trips and their youth camp programs where kids learn farming skills, nutritional skills, and environmental stewardship and how these are delicately intertwined. Then, COVID hit.

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Our Local Employees are Creating Equal Access

Cruzio was founded by people from Santa Cruz, and our staff is hired and trained right here, too. That makes Equal Access Santa Cruz a project of neighbors helping neighbors.

We’ve been building where the need is great

Our team just spent several weeks setting up connections for migrant labor housing communities east of Watsonville. Hundreds of children live there, and need internet for school. There’d been no internet at all prior to our arrival, so it was quite a job. Fortunately Cruzio’s fixed wireless technology — when conditions are right — can connect remote locations quickly and economically.

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Good Times – How Equal Access Santa Cruz County is Bridging the Digital Divide

BYLIZA MONROY

When distance learning began at the outset of the pandemic, former farmworker Aracely Fernandez, a resident of the Buena Vista Migrant Center in Watsonville, had no reliable internet access. Her fifth grade son, a student in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, would need it to continue attending public school.

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Santa Cruz Works – Closing the Digital Divide in Santa Cruz County

Equal Access Santa Cruz County Update

Equal Access Santa Cruz County has a simple goal: bridge the digital divide and bring true high-speed broadband to every family in the Santa Cruz community, regardless of income level.

This project is spearheaded by Cruzio Internet, working with Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Pajaro Valley School District, and other local organizations.

The digital divide has existed for a long time and has been ever-growing as resources and school participation increasingly shift to online formats…..

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From Cruzio’s CEO: First the Good News

Click on the photo to see more Cruzio pandemic pet pictures

There is good news among the ruins of 2020. For Cruzio, it’s that we’ve brought nearly 100 low-income families online, helping kids with online learning and seniors stay connected.

And we expect to connect hundreds more in the near future. Our upcoming project is the Buena Vista Migrant Center — till now they’ve had no broadband. About 140 children live in the housing there. Read the inspiring story of local resident Juan Morales-Rocha’s vision to connect the camp.

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Lookout Santa Cruz – 21 for ‘21: For Juan Morales-Rocha, bridging the digital divide was personal

Juan Morales-Rocha helped lay the groundwork for a project seeking to bridge Santa Cruz County’s digital divide.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

By NICK IBARRA

The first time he tried to restore reliable internet to the farmworker housing where he was raised in Watsonville, Juan Morales-Rocha ran into a dead end.

“I was calling people, trying to connect the dots — like, who would be the right person to call?” he said. “No results, basically, because I guess it wasn’t as important, right?”

That was April 2019, a year before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed so much of school, work and life behind a computer screen….

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Santa Cruz Tech Beat – Rotary Club of Watsonville and Driscoll’s are Closing the Digital Divide: PVUSD Kids Get Connected

Equal Access Santa Cruz County increases opportunity and access to education through internet connection, has met the project’s first financial goal but the need is still great

The success of students in the distance learning model depends on access to reliable internet service. Two months ago, Cruzio Internet and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County launched Equal Access Santa Cruz County (EASC) with a simple goal: bridge the digital divide and bring true high-speed broadband to every family in Santa Cruz County, regardless of income level. Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) welcomed EASC as an opportunity to address the pressing digital divide, made even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rotary Club of Watsonville and Driscoll’s, with help from the Community Foundation, raised the $105,000 dollars needed for EASC to provide internet infrastructure and monthly broadband at the Buena Vista Migrant Labor Camp which will provide long-term high speed internet to about 150 school children.

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Monterey Herald – Closing the Digital Gap Will Take Persistence

By FRENY COOPER

Broadband connectivity is absolutely essential. The COVID-19 pandemic makes that fact clear. When the photo of two girls using WiFi on the sidewalk outside a Taco Bell in Salinas in August went viral, our region’s digital divide was laid bare to the world as never before.

But it isn’t new. Our gaps in service and the inequities in coverage are only more apparent…

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Santa Cruz Sentinel – Everyday Heroes | Equal Access Santa Cruz Bridges Internet Gap During Coronavirus Pandemic

(Contributed – Crystal Birns)

By CRYSTAL BIRNS

Cruzio Sales and Marketing Manager Jesus Lopez in Cruzio’s server room. When coronavirus forced schools online in March, the digital divide was highlighted in a new way, and the need for reliable internet in student’s homes became critical. Cruzio partnered with the County Office of Education, Pajaro Valley School District and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County to develop a plan to expand coverage by offering free and subsidized plans.

Equal Access Santa Cruz was born, with a vision of bringing high-speed internet to every family in the Santa Cruz community, regardless of income level. Demand has been overwhelming. As project lead, this effort is a personal one for Lopez. The child of migrant farmworker parents, he grew up on the Central Coast and is familiar with many of the challenges faced by the families he now works with. His passion and ability to bridge language and cultural divides have been pivotal to the project’s success.

Learn more at equalaccesssantacruz.com.

See Original Story on Santa Cruz Sentinel