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2018 Digital Inclusion Summit




The Digital Inclusion Network (DIN) is a consortium of diverse community-based organizations, public agencies and businesses working together through the Digital Equity Action Plan (DEAP) to raise awareness about digital equity barriers and to develop solutions to bridging the digital divide for our community’s most vulnerable populations - people of color, people with disabilities, people with limited English language proficiency, people of low-income, and older adults.


In November 2014, the Digital Inclusion Network hosted the first county-wide summit about digital inclusion efforts, including trends in digital literacy training and broadband adoption for residents of Multnomah County. The summit’s vibrant conversation led to a community engagement process focused on identifying goals and objectives and culminated in the Digital Equity Action Plan (DEAP).


With over a year of DEAP implementation under our belt, the momentum and commitment of our community partners to bridging the digital divide for our community’s most vulnerable populations remains steadfast. One of the 17 Strategic Actions identified in the DEAP is to “convene an annual digital inclusion summit to provide an update on DEAP implementation, share learnings, network and recognize good work”.


For more about the DIN and the Digital Equity Action Plan:




PNCA   Oregon WIC    Open Signal     CUB 


Special Thanks to our Platinum Sponsor:



Gold Sponsors: 

PNCA logo  MTC logo   MHCRC logo

Silver Sponsors:

Franz logo     Open Signal logo    MetroEast logo



2018 DIGITAL INCLUSION SUMMIT: ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY Building a digitally connected, prosperous community


“The societal cost of digital exclusion is great. Without functional access to the internet, full participation in nearly every aspect of society is compromised – from economic success and educational achievement, to positive health outcomes and civic engagement.” – Digital Equity Action Plan Year 1 – Progress Report  




On May 10, 2018, the Digital Inclusion Network (DIN), led by Multnomah County Library and the City of Portland Office for Community Technology, hosted the 2018 Digital Inclusion Summit. The theme for the full-day event was ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY and included a series of featured speakers, panel discussions, and networking breaks to help advance our collective efforts to build a digitally connected, prosperous community. Thanks to the production support of Open Signal the event was live streamed and is available for replay here.


Or check out this summary of the summit, produced by MetroEast Community Media:


WHO attended: Policy-makers, community leaders, decision-makers, and digital inclusion program implementers in education, technology businesses, nonprofits, philanthropy, healthcare, broadband companies, and public agencies. Over 120 individuals attended throughout the day representing 69 unique organizations.


Featured Speakers:

The day opened with an inspirational welcome from City of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Mayor Wheeler spoke passionately about digital inclusion being an essential component to participatory democracy and economic opportunity. Mayor Wheeler’s vision for the City is one where there is opportunity for everyone regardless of income, zip code, race, ability, etc. Because Portland and Multnomah County have been national leaders on equity and digital inclusion, Mayor Wheeler said we are beyond the planning stage, we are at the action stage. Mayor Wheeler thanked Summit participants for attending and encouraged everyone to engage, break down silos, and build partnerships.


Participants heard from Mozilla representative, Bradley Cohen. Mozilla is the not-for-profit best known for making the Firefox web browser. Mozilla’s mission is to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. An Internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent. Mozilla has a strong presence in Portland and is a proud supporter of the DIN and of community driven digital inclusion efforts.


Before the final panel discussion of the day, Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries, Multnomah County Library shared a video depicting the Earn-A-Computer program and the tangible evidence of what the DIN collaborative has brought to the community. While digital inclusion and equity has been a core value of the public library system for a very long time, the Library, through the Digital Inclusion Network, is bringing these values to the forefront of the priorities and actions of the Library and County. Oehlke said that through the DIN and the DEAP, the Library is helping to create a new paradigm for collaboration and impact. Oehlke challenged participants: “Let’s be bolder and reach higher. Let’s build on our success. Let’s take a few risks and push others to do the same. Let’s apply our collaboration, our collective insight and ambition to propel us and others to new and higher vistas. Let’s do this with the shared aspiration to remove barriers to digital inclusion for every person we can, in every way we can, every single day ”


U.S. Senator Ron Wyden shared inspiration and vision with a video message to Summit participants. Senator Wyden is a longstanding advocate for a free and open internet - he wrote the first Senate net neutrality bill in 2006, ensuring everybody can access the internet and the information on it. 


Closing remarks were provided by Deborah Kafoury, Chair, Multnomah County Board of County Commissioners. Chair Kafoury said that she and her fellow Commissioners are exceptionally aware that the costs of exclusion are profound and lasting. And she offered her full and sustained support for the work of the DIN and any new potential partners. In recognizing that the DIN has accomplished a lot, Chair Kafoury also said there’s a lot left to do. She challenged Internet service providers to do more to help bridge the digital divide and she encouraged digital inclusion advocates to continue to champion the work, reach out to new audiences and partners and to share the stories of those most impacted by the divide.

Panel Discussions:

Panel 1: Building a Diverse, Local Workforce Pipeline

Thompson Morrison, Innovate Oregon; John Furukawa, Uncorked Studios; Emily Barrett, AWS Elemental; Phong Ho, Instrument.

Building a diverse, local workforce pipeline is a team effort, which requires full participation of diverse sectors. The panel included representatives from the tech-business community, who are cognizant of the business benefits of a diverse workforce and who are working to shift internal culture to ensure women and people of color are entering and advancing in tech careers.

Thompson Morrison moderated and opened the discussion with Innovate Oregon’s story; highlighting the importance of educational experiences that excite youth about career opportunities. The panel agreed that the tech community is struggling to sustain a hiring model that relies on ‘imported’ talent and expressed an urgent need to grow the local pipeline.

The panel also discussed ways to bring industry skills and practices into the classroom. It was emphasized that skills were not limited to technology, but included communication, teamwork and creative thinking skills. Larger business entities, such as AWS Elemental, an Amazon Web Services company, have more capacity to allow employees opportunities to ‘lean in’ and engage in educational mentorship programs that help young people gain the skills needed in an ever technology-driven, collaborative, problem-solving environment. For example, AWS Elemental is currently focused on providing internal equity and inclusivity trainings to staff and is supporting external events and sponsorships that provide direct services to underrepresented populations. AWS Elemental hosts a regularly scheduled workshop called How to Prepare for a Technical Interview with PDX Women in Tech (PDXWIT) and sends technical employees to public high schools and Portland Community College for Career Day / Career Fair type of events.

Follow up discussion/workshop ideas:

  • What do K-12 schools want/need from tech and other sectors of the community in order to help engage and excite the youth about careers that offer economic advancement and stability?
  • What is the role and responsibility of the tech industry – in communicating needs, in funding programs, in advocating funding in Oregon, in offering mentorship/internship opportunities, in helping build schools’ capacity?
  • The TechTown Talent Strategy Plan has a goal and strategies directed at this topic. Can we deepen the commitment and identify tangible next steps? It’s a journey – how can we make the journey purposeful and accountable?


TechTown Pledge - Portland Tech Companies have come together to create the TechTown: Diversity Pledge — a movement around achieving greater diversity and creating a more inclusive tech community in Portland.

2017-2019 TechTown Talent Strategy Plan - The TECHTOWN PDX PARTNERSHIP is working together to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the regional tech economy.           

Panel 2: The Power of Digital Inclusion to Decrease Health Disparities

Julie Reeder, State of Oregon WIC program; VaSheeta James, Multnomah County’s Healthy Birth Initiative; Daesha Ramachandran, Health Share; Kathy Harris, Portland State University.

The past decade has seen a growing recognition of the importance of the social determinants of health and their influence on current inequities, as evidenced by: 

  • Maternal mortality in the U.S. is on the rise, defying the global trend. African American women are much more likely to die in childbirth or have post-birth complications.
  • Children’s asthma is linked to social inequality and race. African American and poor children in the U.S. suffer disproportionately from asthma.
  • A significant portion of our seniors (aged 60+) are economically insecure. They struggle with rising housing and healthcare costs, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, etc.

Julie Reeder, moderator, gave an overview of the determinants of health:

  • physical environment (air, water quality, housing & transit)
  • social and economic (education, employment, income, family/social support, community safety)
  • clinical care (access to care, quality of care)
  • healthy behaviors (tobacco use, diet & exercise, etc.).

Contrary to popular thought, the predominant factor in determining health is not healthy behaviors, it’s the social/economic factors. Marginalized communities – people of color, people with disabilities, older adults, low-income families – are predisposed to poorer health outcomes. Society continues to design, implement and support structural barriers that exacerbate the disparity. The digitizing of health information and the use of technology devices in health services creates another layer of disparity.

The panelists provided concrete examples of how the digital divide is impacting lives. A spirited discussion ensued, resulting in the following takeaways, learnings and opportunities:

  • Digital inclusion is a determining factor in life or death situations.
  • Panelists called on the community to work together to dismantle structural inequality. To design services/products with the end-user in mind and ensure that the end-users are the people that need it the most – don’t design “for everyone”; make the service/product culturally responsive - reflect the most marginalized end-users in the design of products/services – engage them in developing the solution. When end-users don’t use the service/product, in most cases they aren’t “non-compliant”. The product/service needs redesign.
  • Just translating content into another language does not make it relevant to that language community.
  • Service providers should consider the ways different cultures/communities seek and achieve health.
  • So much of technology is ableist. Accessing a portal requires certain skills and abilities. People living with physical or mental disabilities are often not considered in portal design.
  • Research shows that health portal use positively impacts health outcomes; however, use of the portal is directly influence by whether or not the patient has internet access at home.
  • Digital literacy programs are helping. Who is teaching the programs is important. It’s more important for the teacher to be patient, encouraging and supportive than to have tech skills.
  • Ensure privacy and security. Low-income and marginalized communities have traditionally been taken advantage of in the medical environment. We need to rebuild trust.
  • Find ways to break down the social service silos. Each social service area asks for the same personal information repeatedly. If we centralized this data and all shared access we provide better support.
  • Time is a luxury for low-income individuals. Provide digital inclusion programs that work for the individual.
  • Youth of color should be exposed to and trained for careers in the medical and medical tech industries.

Panel 3: When (Policy) Worlds Collide: The Intersectionality of Federal, State, and Local Policies as they relate to Digital Equity and Inclusion

Mary Beth Henry, Digital Equity/Broadband Advocate; Representative Pam Marsh, District 5 (Ashland) Oregon House; Ricardo Lujan Valerio, Oregon Student Association; Kimberly McCullough, ACLU Oregon; Jonathan Bartholomew, AARP; Grace Stratton, Multnomah County Field Rep. for Senator Ron Wyden

Mary Beth Henry, moderator, opened the panel by stating, “Congress and the Federal Communications Commission continue to make Internet-related policy decisions affecting Oregonians, and too often these decisions result in disproportionate barriers for historically underserved and underrepresented communities.” Henry said that Oregon’s reaction, both at the state and local level, has largely been in opposition to the federal decisions, but then posed the questions: “Are these state and local policy responses adequately addressing concerns? What should we expect going forward – federally and across Oregon?”

The panel then delved into how recent public policy decisions, such as the repeal of network neutrality and Internet consumer privacy rules, and the proposed dismantling of the Lifeline program, at the federal level are impacting local digital inclusion efforts and public policy decisions.

Some highlights from the discussion included:

Kimberly McCullough, “The reason we (ACLU) is involved in all of this work (net neutrality, consumer privacy, municipal broadband) is because of its intersection with our civil rights and civil liberties. Our free speech and association, our political activism and movement building – those things happen on the internet now… It is crucial that we protect our civil rights and civil liberties on the internet to actually have a free and open society. And beyond that the internet actually provides a really unique opportunity for traditionally, historically marginalized voices to be heard and to be lifted up. But that can’t happen unless we have access to the internet, unless we prohibit discrimination on the internet by the service providers, and so on.”

Representative Pam Marsh, “We are seeing times change in state government, finally we are seeing that tipping point. Where we recognize, we can’t help but recognize, that broadband availability that’s accessible, that’s affordable, that is meaningful, that is safe is something that we have to be able to provide to all Oregonians. We as a state need to step up and support the development of robust (broadband) networks across Oregon.”

  • The 2018 Broadband in Oregon report suggests development of a Local Champions Program, designed to leverage local talent and expertise throughout the state. 
  • HB 4023 (2018) – a bill, now a statute, that authorizes the state Chief Information Officer (OSCIO) to expand broadband network services to selected other non-state public agencies. “This was an important piece of legislation that helped the state start leading on broadband, instead of following.” – Pam Marsh
  • Looking forward to 2019: Possibility of establishing an Oregon Broadband Policy office, as a way to build expertise and collaboration; possibility of establishing a predictable, ongoing source of funding (i.e. broadband universal fund).
  • The Lifeline modernization order expanded the program to include broadband services for low-income individuals. The Residential Service Protection Fund administered by the Oregon PUC provides additional funding to help consumers further offset the cost of telephone service. The recent FCC move to roll back the modernization will make it harder for low-income individuals to have telephone service and will eliminate broadband service options entirely.
  • ACLU Municipal Broadband report calls on local governments to pursue providing broadband to residents to help counteract federal rollbacks of net neutrality and internet privacy protections.

Thanks to MetroEast Community Media, we captured some great #digitalequityis stories throughout the day. Check out the videos below.



Summit participants were asked to discuss and then report out on #digitalinclusionis...

→     Giving everyone a voice in democracy

→     True democracy

→     Patience (on behalf of the digital inclusion teacher)

→     Demystifying technology in order to transform individual’s relationship with technology for the better