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April 28, 2009

CCNY Adult & Continuing Education Helps Brigde Digital Divide Through Computer Training In Public Housing

Classes Help Seniors Connect with Grandchildren; Adults, Teens Enter Workforce

NEW YORK, April 28, 2009 – Helping to bridge the digital divide for some of New York’s poorer and older citizens, The City College of New York (CCNY) Adult & Continuing Education program is providing computer training and GED classes at 15 New York City public housing complexes under a three-year, $600,000 contract with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).  

The contract is funded through a Neighborhood Networks grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Persons in lower income and older age groups often fall on the wrong side of the digital divide because they lack effective access to computers, the Internet and other technologies.  Initiatives to overcome the digital divide can help persons prepare for better job opportunities, access information resources previously not available to them and become more engaged participants in society.

The training provided under the contract will target two distinct groups: seniors wanting to learn how to use technology, and adults and teens seeking job skills that will help them enter the workforce, said Leiby Adames-Boom, Associate Director of Adult & Continuing Education at CCNY.  The courses, which provide between 60 and 160 hours of instruction, are offered during both daytime and evening. 

“This is not a drop-in center,” she added.  “Once they come in they need to commit to be in the program at least 80 percent of the time.”  Many of the program trainers are certified Department of Education teachers or have taught adult education classes, she noted.

“This NYCHA-CCNY special education partnership will help public housing seniors and youth learn and improve their computer skills while opening a world of opportunities for them in their communities,” said NYCHA Deputy General Manager for Community Operations Hugh B. Spence.  “The program is helping our residents become more economically, politically and socially competitive with other computer-savvy New Yorkers,” he added.

Senior centers at public housing developments will be equipped with between five and 10 computers and will be wired for high-speed Internet access.  “The great thing about the program is that many people in senior communities do not have computer access,” Ms. Adames-Boom said.  “We’ll teach them to use the Internet to get information on health insurance and other services and also to use e-mail to stay in touch with children and grandchildren who live out of town.”

The programs for adults and teens are intended to expand their computer skills.  “We want to introduce them to other activities besides browsing the Internet, such as web design, word processing and spreadsheets,” she continued.

“Many of the unemployed have never used or have little experience using computers at work.  This also opens doors to continuing education, since many people were afraid to continue their education because they lacked computer skills needed to take advanced courses.” 

The contract is the largest to date between CCNY and NYCHA.  Contracts awarded in 2005 and 2006 provided for training at 32 computer centers.  Under the two previous contracts, more than 100 people were able to obtain jobs because of the training they received, Ms. Adames-Boom said.

About The City College of New York

For more than 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; The School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture (SAUDLA); The School of Education; The Grove School of Engineering, and The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.  For additional information, visit www.ccny.cuny.edu.

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