By Rosa Mendoza, President and CEO, ALLvanza

Communities across the United States are enriched by Latinos’ entrepreneurial spirit and cultural contributions. Yet, many Latinos face hurdles in fully participating in the digital age and reaping its benefits. This “digital divide” has stark consequences, limiting access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. But two crucial tools—broadband access and strong intellectual property (IP) protections—can move us towards a future where Latino communities not only thrive but also innovate and lead.

Congressman Raul Ruiz of California is a champion of policies that can ensure Latino communities, and all Americans, have the access to necessary tools and resources for success in the 21st century. We, at ALLvanza, recently had a conversation with the Congressman about the challenges facing underserved communities and the need to ensure all communities have the tools to overcome those challenges.

We agreed that broadband access is one such tool. It’s the oxygen that fuels the digital economy, powering education and remote work, connecting families to loved ones, and providing a platform for sharing cultural heritage. Lack of broadband access traps entire communities in a cycle of disadvantage.

Children without access to the internet are unable to keep up with online learning or access virtual tutoring. Entrepreneurs cannot launch successful businesses without robust online platforms. Families are isolated from telemedicine appointments and vital health information necessary to keep them healthy. This is the reality for many Latinos, who are disproportionately affected by the digital divide.

Connecting to the online world is essential, but it is not enough. We must also empower Latinos to become creators, innovators, and drivers of the digital future. This is where intellectual property protections come in. Strong IP safeguards the creations of Latino artists, entrepreneurs, and inventors, allowing them to reap the rewards of their ingenuity and invest in their communities. Without these protections, their ideas and work could be easily appropriated, robbing their communities of the benefits of their innovations.

During our discussion, Congressman Ruiz emphasized this point, saying “individuals who invest their time and talent to create products should receive the deserved rewards stemming from their creativity.” Strong IP policies not only encourage creativity, but also foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing within Latino communities. Imagine a network of Latino scientists, their research protected by robust IP frameworks, partnering with tech startups to develop solutions for healthcare disparities or environmental challenges. The potential is boundless.

Broadband access provides the platform, and IP protections safeguard the seeds of innovation. By closing the digital divide and protecting intellectual property, we can unleash the full potential of the Latino community and build a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.

This is not just a technological or economic imperative; it’s a matter of social justice. Equitable access to broadband and strong IP protections are essential tools for breaking down barriers and ensuring that Latino communities can share in the fruits of the digital age. They are the keys to unlocking doors of opportunity, not just for individual success, but also for collective empowerment and societal progress.

Let’s join Congressman Ruiz in addressing the digital divide and bolstering intellectual property protections, benefiting not only Latinos but all Americans. Let’s create a future where every community has the chance to connect, create, and contribute to a brighter tomorrow.