PROGRAM TO HELP PILSEN, NEAR WEST SIDE RESIDENTS GAIN INTERNET ACCESS
A new program started by the University of Illinois at Chicago and community organizations will help Pilsen and Near West Side residents get connected to the Web.
The effort, a collaboration between the UIC Neighborhoods Initiative and partners Gads Hill Center in Pilsen and the Westside Employment Education Center on the Near West Side, will establish two technology centers outfitted with computer workstations. The sites will deliver computer training and Internet access to the communities.
A one-year, $40,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs paved the way for the centers. UIC faculty, staff and students will provide technical support and assistance.
"UIC is home to some of the most sophisticated computer technologies in the region," said David Perry, director of the UIC Great Cities Institute and interim dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Policy. "Technology plays a very important role in community development. Through this partnership, we will be able to expand much-needed services to the community."
At the two sites, residents will have computer and Internet access for job search and homework, help with distance learning opportunities and language skills, ACT/SAT preparation, college application assistance, employment skills training and professional development.
"Expanding the role of technology in community development is about more than simply providing new hardware and software to organizations," said Lauri Alpern, associate director of the UIC Great Cities Institute. "It is about establishing and implementing long-term strategies and partnerships to incorporate technology into successful organization programs and services. That is what the grant will allow us to do in the future."
The UIC Neighborhoods Initiative is an established partnership program between UIC and neighborhood organizations adjacent to the university, Pilsen and the Near West Side. Begun in 1994 and housed at the Great Cities Institute, the initiative develops and implements programs to strengthen the quality of life for current residents, businesses, the university and other institutions.
To date, the initiative has established more than 40 partnership programs in the areas of housing, economic development and community education. UIC faculty, staff and students have been engaged in programs that include the Affordable Housing Fund, the Parent Leadership Project, alternative physical education programs and community health initiatives.
The UIC Neighborhoods Initiative is part of the university's Great Cities commitment. Through Great Cities, UIC engages with civic, community, corporate and government partners to discover solutions to challenges facing cities, improve the quality of life in urban environments, and share new knowledge on urban issues with the Chicago metropolitan area and cities around the world.
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