A partnership with an Oregon community organization and a global telecommunications company will create high-tech learning centers in three Portland neighborhoods to help people overcome digital barriers as a way to improve their lives. brought. The center officially opened Thursday morning.
Verizon will provide $4 million to the Hacienda Community Development Corporation, a housing and economic development nonprofit organization, to open up free resources to the public, including high-speed internet, 3D printers and laser cutters, in the North and Northeast “communities.” Open a Forward Learning Center. and locations in southeast Portland. The North Portland Center also has a professional-level audio recording station.
The Hacienda CDC, a Latino-led community development organization, says more than 60% of the families it serves access the internet via smartphones only. The organization hopes the new learning center will help fill that gap and provide people with the technology they need to apply for jobs, do school work, manage their online businesses, and more. increase.
“The Center’s goal is to bring cutting-edge technology to historically underserved communities, provide culturally-responsive programming, and leap forward to learn something they’ve never learned before.” It’s about getting people excited and interested in what you’re doing,” says Julian. His Arrobas program at Hacienda CDC, Alexander, his manager, is an initiative focused on connecting his members of the community to his resources digitally.
Hacienda’s partnership with Verizon began about four years ago.
The pandemic has slowed the process of opening learning centers, but Verizon and Hacienda hosted the official opening Thursday in North Portland of the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and Center at Rosemary Anderson High School’s New Columbia campus. did.
Portland is one of four cities opening these new spaces.
Alex Leupp, Verizon’s executive director of foreign and government affairs for Oregon, said Verizon chose to partner with Hacienda CDC because of its commitment to equity and its connection to the communities it serves. I said it was because
“It’s no secret that the digital divide is real and wide, and it’s not just an urban-rural issue. It’s also in urban communities,” says Leupp. “We are committed to the democratization of education and technology.”
Verizon launched its “innovative learning” program about 10 years ago, Leupp said. The program provides technology and training to his K-12 schools nationwide, including more than 10 schools in the Portland area. The new Community Learning Center was born from that idea.
“There is a broader need than that. There are adults, especially people, who can use this help. [for whom] English is not their first language,” says Leupp. “They may be immigrants or they may not have had the opportunity to access this technology, so we knew there was a real need in our community.”
Hacienda receives support through partnerships with other companies and organizations to ensure the center is long-term sustainable.
Hacienda Chief Operating Officer Jaclyn Sarna said:
open to all
Although the center has only just officially opened to the public, Hacienda has offered several programs over the past few years, including a summer camp for high school students, aimed at connecting the community to technology.
“This is clearly something the Hacienda has never done before, but we felt it especially when the pandemic hit. Resources to address the digital divide that became so apparent the moment the world moved I am very grateful to be in this position to be able to have a virtual,” says Sarna.
In addition to the center in North Portland, which hosted the grand opening event, Hacienda will operate a center on the ground floor of its headquarters in the northeastern Curry neighborhood and, in partnership with the university, on the Southeast campus of Portland Community College.
Centers in North and Northeast Portland are fully operational. PCC locations will not be fully open until the campus returns from winter break.
Sarna said the Hacienda was very intentional about where it would put its center.
The organization chose Curry because of its history of working in the area. Away from North Trenton Street, New He chose Columbia because of its diverse community. We also chose the Southeast Campus of Portland Community College because of our desire to partner with the college and because it is located in the ethnically diverse Jade neighborhood on the edge of East Portland.
All three centers are located in racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods with large immigrant populations, according to city data.
“One of PCC’s goals is to support upward mobility by preparing students for successful careers in high-demand fields,” said PCC’s interim senior director of marketing and communications. James Hill said in a statement. “So we understand how important digital inclusion is to addressing the success and equity gap. Opening our learning centers to the community to help people take their next steps in STEM. I look forward to helping.”
Community and Workforce Improvement
In addition to its obvious relevance to high-tech resources and technology-based work, the center provides the community with more basic knowledge, such as how to use the Internet and how to use computers in general. work. The center will also have opening hours for an ‘internet café’ where groups can reserve spaces.
Alexander with Hacienda, the organization has partnered with Portland Parks and Recreation, will be hosting an event at the Curry Center next week to guide members of the community through jobs, build resumes, and learn how to apply. He said he would explain. The event will be offered in English and Spanish.
A complete list of events at the Learning Center will be posted on the Hacienda website.
“As we move away from youth programming, adult programming on vocational development will become very, very important to all learning centers,” Alexander said.
Hacienda’s Sarna said the center is looking to strengthen ties with local industries and companies such as Intel.
“We are currently identifying industries and specific companies and companies that can make a direct warm handover to potential employment opportunities,” said Sarna. “These are the things I have to do if I want an entry-level job at Intel. This is the education I need to complete to be a competitive candidate.”
Alexander said he hopes the new center will give people the “energy” to pursue their dreams.
“It feels a little off-topic when you’re worried about how to pay your bills. ‘How do I get Internet access?'” they said. “We can take care of the Internet. We can help.”