What’s the news? As part of AT&T’s $2 billion commitment to help bridge the digital divide and homework gap, AT&T contributed $500,000 to PCs for People in Baltimore to provide free access to digital tools and digital skills training for students, families and adults in Baltimore and across Maryland.
The funding supported under-resourced adults and children in Baltimore by helping them get access to computers. In addition, it went towards launching a tech internship program for more than 100 young adults and a digital navigators program that hired employees to teach local youth and adults how to use the internet and technology safely and effectively in their lives.
The announcement was made today during a special ceremony at PCs for People Maryland’s East Baltimore plant as the nonprofit commissioned its latest cohort of Digital Navigators and Tech Interns — experts of all ages trained to support digital equity efforts and tech adoption in their communities. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Maryland Secretary of General Services Ellington Churchill were on hand to meet the cohort members and give remarks on the evolution of digital equity efforts in the city and state.
Since its launch, 70 local youth ages 16-23 have completed the Tech Internship program, earning their NAID certifications and learning the theory and practice behind PCs for People Maryland’s social enterprise model. The organization’s Digital Navigator program has trained and deployed 40 individuals with Tier 1 Tech Support training to support digital adoption in their communities. Navigators help their neighbors take advantage of digital opportunities in education, employment, healthcare, and social connection.
Thanks to AT&T’s support, PCs for People has also distributed more than 3,000 refurbished computers in Baltimore City through a geotargeted distribution strategy intended to create tech ecosystems and connect organizations committed to poverty mitigation. Many of the devices refurbished and distributed were once federal property —acquired with the help of the Maryland Department of General Services through the Federal Surplus Property Donation Program. Learn more at https://www.pcsforpeople.org/maryland/.
What they’re saying:
“Closing the digital divide is a top priority for Baltimore and my administration, and it will require broad and diverse support and investments to realize this goal,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott.“Expanding access and opportunity for Baltimore residents, especially our young people, is critical to the success of our city in the future. This new partnership between PCs for People and AT&T is helping to ensure Baltimore’s students and families can engage in the digital world and benefit from the promises of virtual learning, remote work, and telehealth.”
“We’re happy to support PCs for People to help bridge the digital divide for Marylanders by equipping them with both the digital resources, skills and expertise they need to succeed today and tomorrow,” said Denis Dunn, president, AT&T Maryland.
“There is no greater barrier to economic mobility than the inability to compete in a digital world. Our friends at AT&T understand this barrier and are investing time, energy, and resources in ensuring all of our citizens can engage the digital world in constructive ways,” said Gary Bonner, Executive Director of PCs for People Maryland. “The Tech Intern Program at PCs for People Maryland has been an effective place for more than 100 opportunity youth (age 16–23) to get their first exposure to building and provisioning workplace computing technology.”
“The Tech Internship program changed my life. I did not know all of the kinds of careers a person like me can grow up to have. I got a chance to see how a technology store functions. I also had the opportunity to learn how to disassemble and assemble a desktop computer. I learned the most from the time I was able to have lunch with an actual AT&T Executive who came from their headquarters to work with us for a day. That was pretty amazing,” said La’Bria White, age 15, student at Dunbar High School.
“I heard about PCs for People when the workforce development program I was in sent me there to do my internship. The experience was something I will never forget. I was an Tech Intern for seven weeks. Then they actually HIRED me! Now I work full-time at PCs for People Maryland. I even get to coach and encourage the other Tech Interns who work in our plant. We are family here. I am so proud of the young people who come in through the intern program,” said Dominique Douglass-Daus, former Tech Intern through Baltimore City Community College workforce development program.