Riverside County Named One of Nation's Digital Inclusion Trailblazers
Riverside County Recognized for the First Time
Riverside – The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) proudly recognizes Riverside County as a 2023 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer. This accolade highlights the county's strategic efforts to bridge the digital divide and promote digital literacy among its diverse communities.
Riverside County's unwavering commitment to digital inclusion ensures residents have the necessary tools and skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world. With initiatives that extend beyond the critical response to the pandemic, Riverside County stands out for its proactive and sustained approach to digital equity.
Tom Mullen, Director of Broadband Services for Riverside County, asserts "Closing the digital divide is more than a goal—it’s a commitment to our community. We are dedicated to empowering our residents with the ability and knowledge to confidently navigate online platforms and digital devices at any time and place."
This year, Riverside County is among a historic number of awardees—47 governments acknowledged for their innovative steps towards creating digitally inclusive societies within the United States.
"Digital equity isn't a solo journey—it's a collective mission," says Angela Siefer, NDIA Executive Director. "Our Digital Inclusion Trailblazers set a standard for local governments to construct connected communities that serve all citizens."
Riverside County secured its Trailblazer status through dynamic programs and initiatives such as:
- RivcoConnect: A visionary initiative launched by the County Board of Supervisors in 2016, RivcoConnect's mission is to make high-speed broadband services widely available, aiming to cover all 87 incorporated, unincorporated, and tribal communities within Riverside County. Recognized with a National Association of Counties (NACO) Achievement Award, the initiative represents the county's dedication to ending the digital divide.
- Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Outreach Campaign: A cornerstone of Riverside County's digital inclusion efforts, this campaign has been pivotal in connecting over 213,000 low-income families to affordable internet services. Families eligible for the ACP can benefit from up to $30 off their monthly internet bill, with those on tribal lands receiving up to $75 in discounts. The campaign has been a testament to the county's resolve to ensure no resident is left offline.
- Comprehensive Community Engagement: The ACP Outreach Campaign has utilized a multichannel marketing strategy, including billboards, television ads, and direct mail. A significant emphasis has been placed on bilingual outreach, with resources and assistance provided in both English and Spanish. To further support families, Riverside County has set up a dedicated hotline with multilingual representatives to streamline the enrollment process.
- Digital Equity Program: Riverside County is committed to ensuring that all Riverside County residents have access to the internet, digital literacy skills, and digital devices so that they can fully engage in the digital world. RivcoConnect donates computers for distribution to individuals through non-profit organizations and school districts. Riverside Unified School Districts distributes these computers to individuals who complete digital literacy training.
- Broadband Master Plan: Riverside County’s Broadband Master Plan, published in August 2023, outlines the strategies that Riverside County and its partners will implement to connect all of its 2.47 million residents to high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband service. The plan consists of three overarching goals—expanding broadband infrastructure to un(der)served areas across Riverside County, making broadband access more affordable, and encouraging broadband adoption—as well as several supporting strategies establishing centralized program oversight for broadband initiatives and considering the county’s broader economic workforce development goals as part of this initiative.
The updated NDIA Trailblazer program outlines seven best practice categories, reflecting the latest advancements in digital inclusion. Riverside County's programs have been meticulously verified and recognized for their substantial impact on community well-being, earning a prestigious place on NDIA's interactive map and database.
About National Digital Inclusion Alliance
NDIA furthers digital equity by fostering community programs and informing policymaking. By collaborating with a network of over 1,500 digital inclusion practitioners, NDIA promotes accessible broadband, technology devices, digital skill-building, and ongoing technical support. For more information, visit digitalinclusion.org.
RivcoConnect is dedicated to ending the digital divide in Riverside County. Established by the County Board of Supervisors in 2016, RivcoConnect advocates for affordable and available high-speed broadband services throughout all 87 incorporated, unincorporated, and tribal communities within Riverside County. Riverside County has been recognized with an Achievement Award from National Association of Counties (NACO). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.