Computing centers open in North Philly

Façade of Congreso de Latinos Unidos headquarters, 216 W. Somerset St. — PHOTO COURTESY CONGRESO DE LATINOS UNIDOS

The digital divide in Philadelphia is shrinking, thanks to the combined efforts of Philadelphia FIGHT and Congreso de Latinos Unidos.

The pairing and resulting synergy it created has led to the opening of several KEYSPOT public computing centers in North Philadelphia and Kensington; now, every Congreso office or building will have a KEYSPOT computer center.

“We’re very happy that Congreso is able to provide computer access to members of this community,” said Congreso de Latinos Unidos President and CEO Cynthia Figueroa. “Digital inclusion is paramount to the economic viability and overall progress of a neighborhood. We want to make sure that the folks here aren’t left behind.”

In total, 29 Internet-capable computers will be made available to the public, which were funded through an $18.2 million grant from the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program; and Congreso’s partnership with Philadelphia FIGHT will allow Congreso to also offer basic computer training in Microsoft Office. Basic and advanced classes will be offered free of charge, either in English or Spanish.

The offering has proven to be a hit with residents, as the computers have been used nearly 3,000 times, including more than 2,400 hours of training and programming use.

KEYSPOT centers are at Congreso Headquarters, 216 W. Somerset St; Congreso Education and Training Center, 2800 N. American St. and Congreso Esfuerzo Program, 3439 N. Hutchinson St. Those wanting to register for classes should call (215) 763-8870.

According to its mission statement, Philadelphia FIGHT is primarily an AIDS service organization tasked with providing primary care, educating, advocacy and further research on treatments, vaccinations and possible cures. While not exactly in the same orbit as Congreso, Philadelphia FIGHT is one of the 13 agencies throughout the city participating in the program, initiated by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Technology and Innovation and the Urban Affairs Coalition. So in that vein, this partnership makes perfect sense, especially considering that Philadelphia FIGHT has its own free computer sessions — the Critical Path Internet Project — geared towards youth, the formerly incarcerated and their families.

Congreso has teamed with Philadelphia FIGHT in the past, including participating in the recently-completed Aids Education Month series of events.

“Congreso is an amazing leader in this community,” said Deaglan S. Daugherty, Philadelphia FIGHT’s digital inclusion supervisor. “And we are thrilled to partner with the agency to promote skills training and basic access to computer technology.”

 

Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or dwilliams@phillytrib.com.

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