NEWTON, MA | September 1, 2000
EDC and seven partners have been awarded a one-year, $2 million U.S. Department of Education contract to further the work of community technology centers (CTCs) in low-income areas. The America Connects Consortium, as the eight partners will be known, will provide technical and organizational assistance to the more than 400 CTCs currently funded by the Department of Education and the many other CTCs that have been established in low-income communities with other funding.
“This award is an important step to insure that everyone has access to computers, especially those in lower-income and hard-to-reach rural areas,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, in announcing the contract. “The centers allow everyone to take advantage of learning and economic opportunities that have been beyond their reach until now.”
“They are a critical piece in this continuing wave of using technology,” noted Vivian Guilfoy, EDC Vice President and Senior Advisor to the Consortium. “In addition to providing access, they’re showing us many successful models for how community technology transforms peoples’ lives, their work, and their neighborhoods.”
Located in libraries, schools, community centers, community colleges, public housing facilities, and other settings, CTCs offer computer and Internet training and access to residents of economically distressed communities. From their grassroots beginning in the 1980s, CTCs have attracted a strong following, advancing center users’ educational and career goals through hands-on training in both information technology and career preparation skills. A recent survey showed a 90% return rate by center users.
But the movement now needs strong regional and national support, said Paul Lamb, Executive Director of Street Tech (www.streettech.org), a CTC in San Pablo, CA: “We have wonderful experiments and models that are pushing the envelope in technology access and training for the digitally deprived, but we need better technical support, more effective curricula, improved program standards, and a closer working relationship with private industry. The America Connects Consortium represents a great opportunity.” The Director of the Consortium, Laura Breeden, concurred. “The eight partners bring together powerful relationships and many years of experience applying technology in non-traditional settings. We are excited about what we will be able to accomplish together.”
The America Connects Consortium was the winning bid in a Department of Education request for technical assistance to CTCs in education technology, research, accessibility, and organizational development. As lead partner in the consortium, EDC will provide project management and coordination in addition to expertise in education technology, online professional education, and Web site management. EDC will draw on existing successful collaborations with other consortium partners, including its work with such community technology pioneers as CTCNet and HUD Neighborhood Networks (together representing nearly 1,000 CTCs) and through partnerships with industry groups such as NAB and ITAA to develop skill standards and educational pathways for the information technology industry. Through an affiliated group, the Friends of ACC, the Consortium includes additional public and private sector representation.
The America Connects Consortium partners are:
- Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), a nonprofit education research and development organization (http://www.edc.org), Newton, MA
- Community Technology Centers’ Network (CTCNet), a national association of more than 400 CTCs, established in 1992 (www.ctcnet.org), Cambridge, MA
- ICF Consulting (ICF), an international firm working on community and economic development, including technical assistance for CTCs in HUD housing (www.neighborhoodnetworks.org), Fairfax, VA
- Alliance for Nonprofit Management (ANM), a national membership association for nonprofit management support organizations, consultants, and allied institutions (www.allianceonline.org), Washington, DC
- Alliance for Technology Access (ATA), an association of 41 centers that provide technology assistance for people with disabilities (www.ataccess.org), San Rafael, CA
- CompuMentor, a pioneer in matching volunteers with technology skills with nonprofit organizations and in guiding nonprofits on technology use. (www.compumentor.org), San Francisco, CA
- Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), an information technology industry association to advance workforce development and other issues (www.itaa.org), Arlington, VA
- National Alliance of Business (NAB), an employee education and training association for business leaders, Washington, DC
The Friends of the America Connects Consortium are:
- Morino Institute, a philanthropic organization with programs in youth development, entrepreneurship, and social venture investment (www.morino.org), Reston, VA
- PowerUp, a public-private initiative to give access to technology and information technology training to underserved youth (www.powerup.org), McLean, VA
- ThinkQuest, an international program granting scholarships to teams of students for exemplary educational Web programming (www.thinkquest.org), Armonk, NY
- Technology for All, a new private-public initiative to make computing and media resources available to nonprofits and community groups at no or low cost (www.techforall.org), Houston, TX
- Policy Link, a national center for community development, technology, and social change (www.policylink.org), Oakland, CA
- Service Employees International Union, an international labor organization now providing computer and Internet access to its 1.4 million members at discounted prices (www.seiu.org), Washington, DC