Thanks to will.i.am and WeLink, Estrada Courts residents are getting fast internet at no cost to them.
BOYLE HEIGHTS, Calif. (KABC) -- One thing the pandemic taught us is internet is no longer a luxury - it's a necessity. Thousands of students fell behind in school due to lack of access to needed technology.
Now, with his i.am Angel Foundation, will.i.am, front man for the multi-Grammy award winning group Black Eyed Peas, is helping to close the digital divide in the community where he was raised.
"This place built me and during COVID we realized the digital divide right in our face," will.i.am said "People from Estrada Courts and Boyle Heights when they were learning from home, they couldn't learn from home because they didn't have connectivity."
Will.i.am talked about how Boyle Heights students needed to sit outside fast-food restaurants for internet access to finish their school work during the pandemic, but now thanks to the partnership between his foundation and WeLink, Estrada Courts residents are getting fast internet at no cost to them.
"Internet can literally change lives, obviously it's changed mine," said Kevin Ross, the founder of WeLink. "It can lift people up. It can give opportunity more than they can even imagine. I'm absolutely thrilled that residents of Estrada Courts now have faster internet than most Americans have the option of buying."
Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Alberto Carvalho says this just helps the district's goal of making sure every student and every family has access to connectivity.
"This evolution of connectivity to ensure that every single street, every single home, every single family is connected is an idea whose time has come," said Carvalho. "It is the right thing at the right time for absolutely the right people."
Will.i.am, born and raised in the Estrada Courts project, is no stranger to giving back to his community and he said he's determined to reinvest.
"A lot of us when we were growing up, we would say, 'I can't wait to get out of here,'" said will.i.am. "With connectivity and opportunities and skillsets, now we can say 'I can't wait to change my neighborhood.'"
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