UC Berkeley: From Students To Seniors, 2L Kevin Frazier’s Nonprofit Helps Close The Digital Divide

December 11, 2020

From College students to Seniors, 2L Kevin Frazier’s Nonprofit Helps Shut the Digital Divide

Kevin Frazier ’22 (second from left) noticed the impression of web entry inequity whereas main Passport Oregon, which brings kids from under-natured communities to outside areas within the state.

By Andrew Cohen

For Berkeley Regulation scholar Kevin Frazier ’22, “the web is the brand new electrical energy — with out it, you are at midnight.”

That mindset drove him to launch No One Left Offline (NOLO), a nonprofit offering monetary help to people and households struggling to pay their broadband payments. The group can be starting to create “NOLO Zones” at companies in San Francisco, creating areas with free WiFi for all.

Greater than 42 million Individuals lack broadband, an issue exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with colleges nationwide pressured to show college students solely on-line. Individuals with well being issues and disabilities are more and more reliant on web entry for telehealth periods, as are older adults looking forward to sustaining contact with family members.

“With the web, you are capable of be taught new issues, improve your productiveness, and join with extra folks,” Frazier says. “For lots of oldsters, although, entry to the web is one thing they should commerce off with different necessities.”

Frazier noticed this primary hand earlier than regulation faculty whereas main Passport Oregon, a nonprofit that linked households in “under-natured” communities with the state’s outside.

“Throughout our journeys, youngsters and their mother and father have been always weighing when they need to flip their telephones off, what number of texts they may ship, and whether or not they had sufficient information left that month to do a fast Google search,” he says. “Information caps and different boundaries to full web entry have been leaving these households within the digital darkish.”

Springing into motion

Since then, Frazier has labored to grasp the political and authorized boundaries to web entry via his public coverage research on the Harvard Kennedy College and now at Berkeley Regulation. When the pandemic hit, he noticed an optimum time to show research into follow.

Frazier delivers a hotspot to the restaurant Señor Sisig in San Francisco this previous summer season for the creation of a “NOLO Zone.”

A couple of 12 months in the past, Frazier and a few pals have been sharing their mutual frustration about how typically folks complain about Bay Space inequities with out taking any steps to treatment them. They arrange the Neighborhood Nonprofit Platform in early 2020, with the intent of speaking to group stakeholders about how they may enhance native neighborhoods.

However when the pandemic struck within the midst of that outreach, it rapidly clarified the place Frazier’s group might intervene in a significant means — serving to group service organizations already working with households and residents to shut the digital divide.

“We discovered that these organizations had recognized these in want of units, web, and digital literacy,” he says. “They merely wanted somebody to assist information them in assembly these wants. That is when our platform pivoted and absolutely shifted to No One Left Offline.”

NOLO has since shaped a coalition of greater than 20 organizations with deep connections to communities missing broadband within the Bay Space and Portland, Frazier’s hometown.

One instance highlighting the group’s strategy with native organizations consists of Señor Sisig, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. NOLO donated a hotspot there, geared up with a 12 months of web, which Señor Sisig leaves open for group members to make use of for fast searches, downloads, and scheduling wants.

Alternative knocks

Quickly after, the group procured 10 hotspots for Alternative Junction — led by Berkeley Regulation grad Alissa Friedman ’87 — which helps motivated Contra Costa County residents discover careers and obtain monetary safety. NOLO will quickly ship 80 hotspots to Each Baby Oregon, which is able to distribute the units to households with foster youth throughout that state.

“Kevin is persuasive and chronic,” Friedman says. “Due to the relationships he has developed, we at Alternative Junction have been capable of provide all our job coaching members with the hotspots they want for our on-line coaching. When the pandemic hit, we pivoted to on-line supply of all program components. Have been it not for NOLO, a number of of our trainees wouldn’t have had the web service wanted to take part and launch new careers.”

Frazier, who works with the given hotspot suppliers to restrict potential safety and privateness considerations, credit Berkeley Regulation’s group for donating to the trigger, serving to establish different coalition organizations, and honing pivotal abilities.

“This has absolutely been essentially the most significant a part of my regulation faculty expertise,” he says. “Launching a nonprofit has required me to lean on a number of of the teachings I’ve discovered and follow at college. At the beginning, I’ve grown far more snug studying contracts, writing MOUs, and weighing the dangers of varied potential partnerships.”

Final summer season, Frazier discovered extra in regards to the digital panorama working for Cloudflare, which strives to make the web safer and extra inclusive. He cut up his time between Cloudflare and interning remotely with the Supreme Court docket of Guam.

In each positions, “it grew to become much more clear that the regulation is commonly a long time behind expertise,” Frazier says. “Although folks within the personal and public sectors have good intentions about remedying this discordance, there’s nonetheless rather a lot to be carried out. I am desirous to proceed working on the nexus of expertise and good governance.”

This press launch was produced by the University of California, Berkeley. The views expressed listed below are the writer’s personal.

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