January 4, 2019
2018 was another busy year for the organizations and individuals working to create a more socially equitable world. Whether it was the continued efforts to restore Net Neutrality or the work to protect the basic human rights of everyday Americans, our partners had their hands full rising to the challenges of an ever-changing political and social landscape. As usual, Voqal was on hand to help provide these organizations the resources needed to excel in their fight.
This past year presented its own set of unique challenges and opportunities for Voqal. Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum, the valuable public resource at the core of Voqal’s work, came under fire at the FCC. The notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at making big changes to EBS has the potential to put this valuable educational resource at risk. Voqal and its partners has worked tirelessly throughout 2017 to engage the public to share their voice with the FCC leading to hundreds of comments outlining the benefits of EBS. Whatever may come from this rulemaking, Voqal is committed to ensuring the voices of those who rely on the access provided by EBS are represented.
Internally, Voqal continued to make improvements this past year, including a concentrated effort to help the organization work more effectively and efficiently. Several new staff members have joined the team, creating new possibilities to think strategically about how Voqal can support those on the front lines of creating a more engaged and empowered public. In addition, Voqal placed a greater emphasis on its efforts to address educational opportunity gaps through the creation of the Education Opportunity Project. Finally, Mobile Citizen continued to experiment with ways to get internet into the hands of more educational institutions in an effort to address homework gap.
Looking forward, Voqal hopes to continue its work to protect the public airwaves by monitoring and ensuring the public weighs in on important telecommunications issues like the continued EBS rulemaking and the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. Voqal also plans to continue to refine its grantmaking to ensure a vibrant progressive community of organizations and individuals can continue to advance important issues and ideas like campaign finance reform and a vibrant, independent media landscape. We are also excited for the potential of the 2019 class of the Voqal Fellowship (to be announced soon) to contribute game-changing tools to the progressive social change movement.
As we look to 2019, Voqal continues to look for ways to better contribute to the movement to advance social equity. Whether that is through an increased emphasis on optimizing the ability of the organization to rapidly respond to needs as they arise or providing better support for our partners, we will continue to take steps to create a more engaged and empowered public in the new year and beyond.