Online content for low-income and underserved Americans: The digital divide’s new frontier

This report is the latest in a series of strategic audits produced by The Children’s Partnership on subjects affecting young people. It assesses the so-called “digital divide” (the gap between those with access to online information and those without) and analyzes the “state of the art”. Recommendations are included for policymakers, corporate leaders, technology center staff, philanthropists, and those who work with underserved Americans (people who have low incomes, live in rural communities, have limited education, or are members of racial or ethnic minorities). The research included discussion groups with more than 100 low-income Internet users, interviews with nearly 100 community technology leaders and experts, analysis of 1,000 websites, and a review of relevant literature. The aim of this audit was to describe Americans who are underserved by Internet content, what they want online, and the barriers they face; to analyze the online content available for underserved Americans; and to identify ways that the public and private sectors working with underserved communities can improve online content for underserved Americans. The goal is for low-income and underserved Americans to benefit from new information tools for education, economic development, and civic involvement, and for private enterprise to recognize the value of underserved individuals.