- Population: 29,500 people – located in heart of Silicon Valley
- Ethnicity: 59% Latino, 23% African-American, 7% White, 10% Pacific Islander.
- Median Age: 25.8 years (11 years younger than the median age in San Mateo County) 35% of population is under the age of 18.
- Income: $13,774 per capita (38.2% of the per capita income of San Mateo County.)
- High School Graduation Rates: 36% of students graduate on time.
Despite its geographic proximity to the epicenter of the technological revolution, East Palo Alto residents are struggling to get by in Silicon Valley. The technological boom has created economic forces that challenge even middle income residents, and leaves low income residents living in overcrowded conditions, homeless, or struggling with severe housing cost burdens. Housing prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are the highest in the nation and there is serious competition for the limited supply. As a result, in just the last two years, rents have increased by 29% to an average of $1450 for a two bedroom apartment. To be affordable, rent at this level requires a job paying at least $25 per hour. Since our community members are under-qualified for most high-tech jobs, they struggle every day to earn the kind of money needed to make ends meet.
At the core, it is this economic, skill, and opportunity deficit that has created the “Digital Divide” in East Palo Alto. Other factors include the lack of a local high school, isolation from the social networks in which technology information is distributed and shared, and lack of people in the community that can act as technology educators. That is why Plugged In was created – to train community members to use technology to increase their professional, educational, and social opportunities.
Patrick has been a community member here in East Palo Alto for several years. As a dedicated and motivated individual Patrick has helped several people become business owners throughout the city. As an active community member and long time resident Patrick explains, “I love to help individuals who want to work hard and make dreams come true.”
Magda A. Escobar is responsible for all the operations and management of Plugged In. Magda graduated from Stanford University in 1992. She started her career as a Team Leader at City Year Boston where she worked in early childhood education. She was a consultant to the Commission on National and Community Service researching effective models for delivering technical assistance and training to national service programs around the country. She continued her non-profit work as the National Program Director at Public Allies in Washington DC – an organization dedicated to cultivating a new generation of civic, community, and non-profit leaders. While there, she helped expand the program from two to six cities across the United States.
Magda is on the Board of Directors of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the Non-Profit Advisory Board of Network for Good, a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a member of the Steering Committee for the California Community Technology Policy Group and has served on the Board of Directors of the Social Enterprise Alliance and Our Schools Our Media. Magda is a 2001 Center for Social Innovation Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and was named one of Ms. magazine’s Women of the Year in 2001
Michael has 10 years experience with media for community development in East Palo Alto. From 1993 to 1996 he researched, produced and directed “Dreams of a City: Creating East Palo Alto,” a 55-minute documentary on the history of the city. This award-winning film is the most widely used introduction to the history of East Palo Alto and has appeared in festivals, shown on PBS and been utilized by university courses nation-wide. Michael has also produced three other films about East Palo Alto, worked in nonprofit development and been a content producer for university and private sector web and software efforts. He holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of California at UC Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Communication with a focus on Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University. Languages: English.
Nadine has 14 years experience in the technology industry and ten years of experience doing community technology-related volunteer work. Her experience spans a host of positions and companies ranging from her start as a computer operator at Abbott Critical Care Systems to software engineering at IDX Systems Corporations where she worked just before joining Plugged In. Nadine was the volunteer director of the Maranatha Computer Advancement Center in San Jose since its inception in 1993 where she acquired funds from the City of San Jose, Silicon Valley Bank, and Maranatha Christian Center to purchase 16 computers, created a mechanism to transport 40 – 60 youth per week from an affordable housing development to utilize the center’s homework and computer programs, and provided in-home service for senior citizens troubleshooting and repairing computers.
Rolando was previously was part of the Schools Online development team and program team, where he managed projects in Latin America and the United States. As Regional Program Director, he coordinated the installation of thirty-eight Internet Learning Centers in schools in Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Costa Rica, India, Spain, Paraguay, and Peru. In 1992, Rolando graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Subsequently, he received both a M.S. in Manufacturing Systems Engineering in 1994 and a M.S. in Engineering Management from Stanford University. Languages: English and Spanish.