From starting the i.am/Angel Foundation to performing at the 2022 East LA Classic, Black Eyed Peas founder and lead artist will.i.am always makes sure to support the neighborhood he says made him: Boyle Heights. This week he announced his latest effort aimed at giving back to the community: bringing zero-cost, ultra high-speed internet to Estrada Courts, where he grew up.
“During the pandemic, the digital divide crisis in my hometown neighborhood was laid bare for all to see,” said the 47-year-old artist during an event announcing the collaboration. “America unfortunately remains a nation of digital haves and have-nots. Reliable, fast internet is no longer a luxury, it’s an everyday necessity.”
The i.am/Angel Foundation partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Housing Authority of Los Angeles (HACLA), the Mayor’s office and WeLink to bring the much needed service to the Courts.
Youth in communities like Boyle Heights had to face disproportionate challenges navigating online learning during the pandemic which lead to learning loss and isolation on top of the stress of dealing with COVID. “In today’s world, access to reliable high-speed internet should be a human right,” said LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho at Wednesday’s event. “We need to ensure that every single street, every single home, every single family is connected.”
Happy to celebrate with https://t.co/qIgjsUQqHP, https://t.co/4HLADiP8Y2 Foundation, @VanJones68, WeLink, and HACLA on the expansion of internet service to even more households surrounding our schools in the Boyle Heights community. @iamwill @iamangelfdn pic.twitter.com/iKWmuqPdZr
— Alberto M. Carvalho (@LAUSDSup) January 11, 2023
Now the hundreds of residents living in the 414 apartments of Estrada Courts will now have access to free gigabit internet up to 940 Mbps, speeds much faster than most throughout the country even have access to.
WeLink is a next-generation wireless broadband tech and internet service provider dedicated to bringing high-speed internet at a low-cost to communities that need it the most. will.i.am says he reached out to WeLink’s founder Kevin Ross when he heard about the company’s wireless-fiber technology, sowing the seeds for the partnership and its potential growth into other communities in the city.
“There’s a lot of us that grew up in projects in America and we all need to do our part in making a difference for the next generation of kids growing up like we did,” said will.i.am. as he called for other artists to engage in similar efforts. “To folks like me who come from the projects, have awesome memories and love the community they come from, this is the recipe to bring everybody into the new world.”
will.i.am shared some of his own memories growing up in Estrada Courts in a video with the Boyle Heights Beat.