July 15, 2011 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Media Mobilizing Project presented the “Freedom Rings” Partnership at today’s opening of five new public computing centers. These locations are five of the 77 public computer centers opening across the City and providing digital literacy and workforce training opportunities. In partnership with the Philadelphia Student Union, SEIU Healthcare PA, Casa Monarca, the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania and Logan CDC, the Media Mobilizing Project is managing these new locations tailored to the specific needs of the community organizations. The Neighborhood Technology Centers will provide training in digital literacy, advanced computer skills, and community journalism to 1,500 participants over the next two years.
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, including 19 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.
The following organizations will also participate in the “Freedom Rings Partnership”:
- Youth Outreach Adolescent Community Awareness Project
- One Day At A Time
- Philadelphia OIC, Inc.
- Free Library of Philadelphia
- Drexel University
- National Comprehensive Center for Fathers
- Department of Parks and Recreation
- New America Foundation
- People’s Emergency Center
- Philadelphia FIGHT
- Rutgers University
- Tenant Support Services, Inc.
“The Media Mobilizing Project’s computing centers are a crucial component integrating vulnerable Philadelphians into the 21st century economy,” said Mayor Nutter. “Today, 41 percent of Philadelphians are not connected to the internet. This limits the capabilities of these people and puts them at a severe handicap in today’s economy. It is our goal to see to it that all Philadelphians have computer and internet access in their communities in order to open the door to jobs and educational opportunities.”
Bryan Mercer, Program Organizer at the Media Mobilizing Project said, “the ‘Freedom Rings’ Partnership is an exciting opportunity for us to build on our five years of pioneering work using 21st century technology to help low income communities come together to find solutions to the problems they face. In a time of budget cuts and unemployment, these computing centers offer a way to connect people—not just to the Internet, but to each other.”
A breakdown of the $25 million initiative, which is funded through the Federal American Recovery 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.
“I am honored to be part of the opening of these five new public computing centers, which directly help area residents acquire important skills. The new computer centers and computer courses will provide the many Philadelphians who have no computer or internet access with new and important opportunities in digital literacy and occupational training,” said Councilwoman Blackwell.
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 Knight Center for Digital Excellence and Census data, approximately 41 percent of Philadelphians are not connected to the internet.
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, call 3-1-1 or visit http://www.freedomringspartnership.com/.