Beyond the Digital Divide

ZeroDivide and the National Civic League (NCL) have teamed up to publish an issue of the National Civic Review on how rapidly evolving information and communications technologies (ICT) can overcome the barriers that divide the “haves” from “have-nots” in communities across the U.S.

“New technologies are transforming the way we live our lives, providing unprecedented opportunities to increase economic well-being and enhance civic engagement,” said Tessie Guillermo, President and CEO of the San Francisco-based ZeroDivide. “Underserved communities are pushing the envelope of what is possible, yet issues of cost, availability, language and literacy continue to limit their full and equal participation.”

Understanding these new opportunities and challenges is the central focus of NCR issue 100:3: “ Beyond the Digital Divide: How New Technologies Can Amplify Civic Engagement and Community Participation.” The contents of the new issue are available for no cost on the Wiley-Blackwell Online library and at ZeroDivide’s website

As part of the launch of this issue, ZeroDivide and NCL will convene a free webinar on November 17th entitled “Catalzying Civic Innovation: Using Tech for Community Engagement.”  The call will feature Jay Nath, Director of Innovation for the City and County of San Francisco, who has an article in the journal. Damian Thorman will also join the discussion. He is the National Program Director at The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and project lead for the Apps for Communities program – a joint project of the Foundation and the Federal Communications Commission.

For more information on the webinar and to RSVP, please visit

NCR 100:3 features some of the country’s leading experts and advocates addressing a broad range of issues relating to ICTs – everything from ways of improving health care delivery to the use of mobile phones to mobilize political participation and civic engagement. “From digital divide to digital inclusivity, the issue of access has become more sophisticated in less than a decade,” writes Ali Modarres, chairman of the Department of Urban Analysis at California State University, Los Angeles. “Now inclusion encompasses service provision, access to data, creating presence on the Internet, and having influence in shaping the future of ICTs.”

Jay Nath writes how a “Government 2.0” movement is giving citizens opportunities to “participate and contribute value in a new architecture of openness and collaboration.” Jon Funabiki, executive director of the Renaissance Media Center, touts the growing influence of “little media,” small community-based newspapers, Internet publications and broadcast outlets that reach linguistically and ethnically diverse audiences often ignored by the mainstream media. Sasha Constanza-Chock of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology writes about successful uses of ICTs by immigrant rights groups. Other essays focus on a groundbreaking program by ZeroDivide to promote broadband use and digital literacy, and new ideas for how foundations can support their grantees in making use of new technologies.

“It’s so exciting to be working with ZeroDivide on this critical and timely issue,” said National Civic League President Gloria Rubio-Cortés. “We want this issue to give doers and thinkers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors new ideas about how to channel the power of information and communication technology so that it benefits all of our communities.”

Founded in 1998, ZeroDivide helps underserved communities realize the transformative power of technology to achieve social progress and economic opportunity. Since its inception, the nonprofit has invested $50 million to increase these communities’ civic engagement and economic well-being through technology innovation, access, training and content production.

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