In a little more than two months, providing free computers and Internet access through ConnectHome is already having a great impact on families. "I've read eleven books. My favorite book is Jack and the Beanstalk," exclaimed six-year old Jayden. His mother, Maisha, added, "This program is beneficial for my kids and me. They can use the computer because it is entertaining and educational. I want to go back to school to become a nurse so I can look up nursing programs and continue to apply for jobs."
The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles is part of 28 communities participating in ConnectHome.The effort is a national initiative by HUD and the White House to bridge the digital divide among low-income households living in public housing communities across the nation. Through the initiative, HACLA provided 519 computers and Sprint hotspot devices to K-12 households residing at the Avalon Gardens, Gonzaque, Nickerson Gardens, Pico Gardens/Las Casitas, Ramona Gardens and Rancho San Pedro public housing developments.
In addition to the digital literacy sessions, participating families received information on access to education, employment, health and civic engagement resources and opportunities. National College Access Network, College Board, Common Sense Media, Get Schooled, I Can Afford College, American Red Cross, 211 LA County, Youth Source, PBS SoCal Kids, City of Los Angeles LAJobs, Soledad Enrichment Action and League of Women Voters provided enriched resources to families.
"This program makes a big difference. When we get home, we can do homework then eat dinner. I don't have to get home, cook dinner, then go somewhere like the library to do homework," said Carla Ramirez of Pico Gardens and a mother of two school age children.
Rashema Pace of Nickerson Gardens attended the digital literacy session with her 16-year old son and shared, "I'm so excited. It means a lot to have this program because when you go to other places you can only do your work for an hour. So, if you want to look for a job you only have a certain amount of time. I got a job offer last week and everything was closed and I was so nervous because I didn't have a computer. It means a lot because this [having a computer] gives a lot of avenues."
Other families have noted that having a computer enables access to college information and financial aid.
HACLA partnered with Sprint to provide free internet service for four years. Thanks to HACLA’s partners, including the Mayor’s office and the City’s program OurCycleLA, Youth Policy Institute, Human I.T., California Emerging Technology Fund and Citibank, residents received computers, connectivity devices and digital literacy training as well as technical support. This collaboration takes us one step closer toward closing the digital divide.
ConnectHome is the next step in President Obama’s continued efforts to expand high speed broadband to all Americans and builds on his ConnectED initiative that is on track to connect 99 percent of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in their classrooms and libraries. ConnectHome will help ensure that these students still have access to high-speed Internet once they are home.
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