Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=176123
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 2:49:34 PM CST
Ernie Sanders, left, and Jimmy Prude of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation courses look up class schedules on a kiosk available to community residents. The Corporation is located at 1159 W. 79th St.
Getting techie with it
On Thursday morning, the rectory of St. Sabina was filled to capacity with Auburn Gresham community residents who were eager to sign up for computer and internet courses, organizers said.
“The room got so filled that people got sent away,” said Jimmy Prude, technology organizer for the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation and a course instructor.
Cynthia Love, 47, was one of those people. "I was disappointed to the point where I tried to convince them to let me in," she said in a telephone interview, adding that she was hoping to sharpen her skills.
She said Prude encouraged her to try to enroll later this month.
Last spring, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded Auburn Gresham and four other Chicago communities about $7 million to develop the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program. This initiative came after the findings of a 2009 study showed that many Chicagoans were uncomfortable using technology.
The corporation, in collaboration with the St. Sabina Employment Resource Center, will begin the courses on Jan. 24. They will offer two five-week courses -- one on accessing internet portals and another on the use of basic computer programs like Microsoft Word and Excel.
The program will help community residents who do not own a computer or have access to the internet become skilled in broadband technology and computer software, Prude said.
The courses will be taught in the family net center, adjacent to the corporation, and at satellite locations which collectively have 256 computers.
“It will help them sustain their lives,” said Ernie Sanders, the corporation’s communication director and one of the developers of the initiative.
And it's probably the most important one in the community ever, Prude said. "If we can educate now, we can ease the burden of the digital divide over time," Prude said.
Similar courses will be offered in Chicago Lawn, Pilsen, Humboldt Park, and Englewood.
All of the people who attended orientation Thursday morning will have a guaranteed spot in the programs, and upon completing the courses, receive a free computer.
"That's always a plus," Love said.