Today, President Barack Obama awarded a $6.4 Million grant to the City of Philadelphia to create or enhance 77 public computer centers. This project will greatly expand digital literacy in North, West and South Philadelphia to reach over 14,500 of the most vulnerable residents of the City. The award will expand capacity at 19 recreation centers, 10 homeless shelters and 15 other affordable housing sites, 29 community-based organization sites working with high-risk populations, and 4 mobile computing labs.
“For the past year, the New America Foundation has worked with communities across the United States to craft digital excellence initiatives," stated Sascha Meinrath, director of the Foundation's Open Technology Initiative. "Philadelphia is a leading example of how innovative thinking and community-wide collaboration can dramatically increase digital literacy and broadband adoption throughout the city.
"This is an exciting opportunity to connect communities across the city to the most important communication tool of our time. Internet access is an essential step to solving the problems our city is facing in this economy," explained Media Mobilizing Project’s Bryan Mercer.
“Nearly 50% of the population in the targeted areas do not have Internet access and this award will enable residents in these neighborhoods to conduct job searches, access benefits, find life-saving health information, find stable housing and complete homework assignments to help them succeed in school,” states Juliet Fink, Director of Education at Philadelphia Fight. “This project was made possible because of the ability for many different organizations in Philadelphia to come together for a common purpose; to increase the opportunities for low-income citizens to have access to the technological tools needed for daily life in the 21st Century.”
In Philadelphia, New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative provided on-the-ground assistance, partnering with local organizations Philadelphia FIGHT, Media Mobilizing Project, The Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Recreation Department, Peoples Emergency Center, Philadelphia OIC, and the lead applicant: the City of Philadelphia to provide technological, grant writing, and policy support.
“Under the tremendous leadership by the City of Philadelphia and partnering organizations, Philadelphia is once again showing us how to use appropriate technology to solve today’s social issues,” said Dan Meredith, the lead technologist for the Open Technology Initiative in Philadelphia.
The Open Technology Initiative actively supported broadband stimulus throughout the country and published strategy documents and application guides at http://newamerica.net/broadbandstimulus. Additional Open Technology Initiative projects are currently under review by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
For more on the Open Technology Initiative's work in Philadelphia see this recent blog post.
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About the Open Technology Initiative
New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative formulates policy and regulatory reforms to support open architectures and open source innovations and facilitates the development and implementation of open technologies and communications networks. For more information, visit http://oti.newamerica.net.
About the New America Foundation
The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.