Empowering Latinos in Alaska
Last month, we successfully concluded our data gathering and digital literacy campaign as part of the ConnectAK project—an initiative aimed at strengthening digital equity to ensure that everyone has access to the tools and skills necessary for success in the Internet age. This marks our third special community engagement project, following COVIDatos, our campaign for accurate COVID vaccine information, and Tu Voz Importa, our partnership with Alaskans for Better Elections to explain the state’s new voting system.
While there is still much work to be done, we take immense pride in the outcome of this project. To gain a better understanding of the digital equity gap in the Latino community, we conducted a survey. This survey provided insights into how Latinos in Alaska utilize the internet and identified significant barriers within our community. The results were intriguing and further validated through a series of listening sessions held at the Mountain View Library.
These experiences taught us that Latinos in Alaska are actively engaged online. They use the internet for employment, education, and, most importantly, to connect with loved ones around the world. However, we also discovered widespread concerns regarding the cost of internet access and limited coverage in certain areas of the state. These issues must be at the forefront of discussions surrounding digital equity.
Additionally, we successfully engaged with the community through TV spots that introduced the concept of digital equity to a broader Spanish-speaking audience, helping to promote our data collection efforts. It was truly exciting to transform an abstract idea into images and sounds that others could comprehend. Nowhere was this more evident than in our social media endeavors. With over 50 social media posts, we reached more than 90,000 viewers statewide, sharing content that promoted tools, resources, and insights for a safer and more informed online experience. Our efforts were further reinforced by newspaper articles and infographics that were viewed by our loyal readers over the past four months.
What is particularly exhilarating is witnessing the dedication of numerous organizations that were part of the ConnectAK campaign. It’s inspiring to observe so many committed Alaskans working towards something that we, at SDMN, believe is paramount: equitable access to the internet. However, this is merely the beginning. There are still numerous regions across the state where meaningful inclusion of Latinos in Alaska, the state’s second-largest ethnic group, is necessary.
This extends beyond hasty translations using Google Translate at the last minute and digs deeply into the realm of language justice and equity as a whole. Decision-makers throughout the state must actively listen to and engage with the Latino community, striving to comprehend their needs and experiences.
We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to have had a seat at the ConnectAK table, and we urge projects at every level and in every place to consider the Latino community. Every Alaskan plays a role in our mission to make our state more inclusive and equitable. Part of the path towards achieving these goals is the inclusion of all communities, especially Latinos, in projects like ConnectAK. This allows us to continue raising awareness and propelling Alaska forward.