April 26, 2011 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the City’s partners launched the “Freedom Rings Partnership” at today’s official opening of the Philadelphia FIGHT Computing Center. The official opening of this location is the first of 77 public computer centers that will open across the City and provide digital literacy and workforce training opportunities.
The official opening of the Philadelphia FIGHT Computing Center took place during Philly Tech Week, a weeklong celebration of technology and innovation that will run from April 25th- April 30th. Philadelphia FIGHT is one of many public and private organizations that the City’s Division of Technology is partnering with on this technology initiative. The Urban Affairs Coalition, a lead partner in this initiative, will work with the City to provide computer and technology training opportunities at many computer center locations.
The following organizations will also participate in the “Freedom Rings Partnership”:
- Youth Outreach Adolescent Community Awareness Project
- Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc.
- One Day At A Time
- Drexel University
- Free Library of Philadelphia
- Department of Parks and Recreation
- People’s Emergency Center
- Media Mobilizing Project
- National Comprehensive Center for Fathers
- Rutgers University
- New America Foundation
- Tenant Support Services, Inc.
“The Freedom Rings Partnership will help more residents develop valuable digital literacy and workforce skills so they can remain competitive in today’s 21st Century economy,” said Mayor Nutter. “We thank Philadelphia FIGHT and all of our partners for their commitment to bridging the digital divide so all communities, particularly underserved residents, can develop valuable skills that will enhance their ability to work toward a better quality of life.”
The “Freedom Rings Partnership” will create 177 full-time and part-time jobs. The 77 locations will be at new computer centers and expanded, existing computer centers, including19 recreation centers, 29 community-based organization sites working with high-risk populations, 10 homeless shelters,15 other affordable housing sites and four mobile labs that will reach communities lacking space or the capacity to house a computer center.
A breakdown of the $25 million initiative, which is funded through the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program, is as follows:
- A $6.4 million Public Computing Centers Award provided to the City
- An $11.8 million Sustainable Broadband Adoption Award to the Urban Affairs Coalition, the lead partnering organization.
- $3.3 million in matching funds provided by the City and other grant sub-recipients.
- $3.6 million in matching funds provided by the Urban Affairs Coalition and grant sub-recipients
Philadelphia FIGHT Executive Director Jane Shull said, “Access to the Internet and a knowledge of computers is essential to securing a job, completing schoolwork, applying to higher education and accessing the latest in health information. Our goal in this endeavor is to reduce or eliminate the barriers to these resources and provide access to those who don’t already have it because they can’t afford it.”
In addition to the services that will be provided at citywide computer centers, the “Freedom Rings Partnership” will encourage Philadelphians to “get connected” to technology in their homes. The participating partners expect to serve approximately 15,000 people per year and through a citywide awareness campaign, more than 100,000 households are expected to receive information about the importance of broadband technology. According to John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Census data, approximately 41% of Philadelphians do not have access to internet service.
Citywide computing centers are scheduled to open from Spring through Summer of 2011. To learn about upcoming openings, the public is invited to call the Freedom Rings Partnership Hotline at 215.851.1990. They can also call 3-1-1 or visit www.freedomringspartnership.com/.
To learn more about Philadelphia FIGHT, a comprehensive AIDS service organization providing primary care, consumer education, social services, advocacy and outreach to people living with HIV, visit www.fight.org/.
To learn more about Philly Tech Week, visit www.phillytechweek.com/.