CLEVELAND, OH (June 12, 2023) – Westown Community Development Corporation (WCDC), Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center (ASC3) and PCs for People announce the establishment of a new digital learning center (run by ASC3 West) and an affordable computer retail store (run by PCs for People) to connect Cleveland residents to computers, internet, and digital skills.
The digital divide in Cleveland continues to persist, with marginalized communities facing limited access to affordable computers, internet, and digital skills, hindering their ability to fully participate in the digital age and access essential online services. The new digital community center will focus on bridging this gap through affordable technology and digital learning opportunities. WCDC acquired the formerly vacant and blighted historic building and with support from the City of Cleveland’s Department of Economic Development, it has been restored and redeveloped for adaptive reuse. This area has been identified by the Cuyahoga County Office of Innovation and Performance as a priority area to provide community outreach with a focus on overcoming barriers that limit residents from fully engaging in our digital society. Funding for the project has been provided by Cleveland Foundation.
The new digital learning and computer retail center is located at 9926-28 Lorain Avenue in the Lorain Station Historic District and will host a community open house on June 29th from 1–3 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
“This opportunity to partner with ASC3 is strategic as the new center is located within a three-mile radius of the priority areas identified by the county defined as census tracts with less than 60% household broadband and those with only 60-80% broadband coverage,” said Rose Zitiello, Executive Director of WCDC. “Additionally, 48% of the housing units are occupied by families with children and 61% of the residents are low/moderate income.”
“We are proud to welcome this great opportunity to expand our services through this newly created space that has been restored by Weston Development,” said Wanda Davis, Executive Director of ASC3.
The digital community center will also include a new retail storefront for local nonprofit PCs for People. Customers who meet income-eligibility guidelines (200% federal poverty level or 60% area median income and/or enrollment in income-based government programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Federal Public Housing Assistance) can shop for computers starting at $30 and internet starting at $15/month or free through the Affordable Connectivity Program.
“PCs for People is excited to partner with ASC3 and Westown Community Development Corporation to bring a retail location to the west side,” said Bevin Bowersmith, Executive Director of Internet Services at PCs for People. “ASC3 has a demonstrated history bridging the digital divide in our community, and it is a natural relationship to join forces and continue to work toward our collaborative mission of connecting individuals and families to crucial technology, support, and digital skills.”
The storefront locations run by ASC3 West and PCs for People will add two new businesses to this Lorain Station Historic District and will create five full and part-time jobs. The center is located on a major bus line and the I-90 exit is two blocks east at West 98th and Lorain. It is also a 15-minute direct route to downtown along the opportunity corridor.
About ASC3: ASC3 has trained more than 9,000 students, connected over 2,800 new broadband adopters, provided 2,200 new and refurbished devices for residents in greater Cleveland, and also formed 60+ collaborations and partnerships, while celebrating 21 years of community service delivering empowering technology resources. Training includes but are not limited to digital literacy classes from basic to advanced skills in areas including email, internet navigation and online safety, health and financial literacy. Additionally, ASC3 partners with the Cleveland Digital Navigators Group in delivering the Digital Navigator program across Cuyahoga County. “Our ultimate goal is to give people the knowledge and tools they need for digital self-empowerment. Learn more at www.asc3.org.
About PCs for People: Since 1998, PCs for People has become a national leader in digital inclusion by serving over 520,000 individuals, providing 190,000 home computers, connecting 77,000 households to the internet, and responsibly recycling over 9 million pounds of electronic waste through the secure e-waste recycling service. To learn more visit www.pcsforpeople.org.