AT&T Teams Up with Urban League of Rochester and Cameron Community Ministries to Open Digital Learning Lab to Help Bridge the Digital Divide in Rochester
New lab will provide free access to devices, digital learning resources, and greater connectivity for local students and parents
What’s the news? As part of its commitment to address the digital divide and bridge the homework gap, AT&T* has teamed up with the Urban League of Rochester and Cameron Community Ministries (CCM) to open a new state-of-the-art AT&T Digital Learning Lab @ CCM in the City of Rochester, which will provide computers, digital education tools, digital literacy education, mentoring and internet access for children who face digital literacy barriers that threaten to undermine their long-term success. The AT&T Digital Learning Lab @ CCM includes 20 new computers, furniture, printers, digital cameras, tablets, technologies and devices for digital literacy classes, broadband, an original mural and much more.
Why is this important? In Rochester it’s estimated that more than 9,000 K-12 students1 are impacted by the digital divide and don’t have connectivity or the internet-enabled devices they need at home.
AT&T created the New York Digital Literacy Lab initiative to help provide connectivity and access to technology in digital deserts across the Empire State. In 2022, the company will launch five new Labs across the state in partnership with regional Urban Leagues, educational non-profits, and Boys & Girls Clubs to help ensure some of the state’s most vulnerable students and families have access to computers, internet, and digital support at afterschool programs and on weekends.
AT&T’s collaboration with the Urban Leagues in New York on digital divide solutions grows out of the company’s shared vision of universal connectivity with the National Urban League and outlined in the Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity and Inclusion, which provides a comprehensive framework to bridge the digital divide through leveraging the tools of the information economy to create a more equitable and inclusive society.
“AT&T has been dedicated to connecting New Yorkers for more than 140 years and this investment in the Digital Learning Lab @ CCM in collboration with the Urban League of Rochester and Cameron Community Ministries is a reflection of the company and its employees’ ongoing commitment to bridging the digital divide and homework gap in our neighborhoods,” said Amy Kramer, president, AT&T New York. “AT&T is expanding on our longstanding commitment to Rochester with this Digital Learning Lab and is proud to provide critical computers, technologies, connectivity and digital resources to connect some of the region’s underserved students and families – to today’s digital world.”
“I want to thank AT&T, the Urban League of Rochester and Cameron Community Ministries for bringing the AT&T Digital Learning Lab @ CCM to the city of Rochester to help our children and families thrive in the 21st century learning environment,” said Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans. “Providing all of Rochester’s residents with access to the latest technology and information is absolutely critical to their success and the success of our entire community. Partnerships such as this will play a critical role in our efforts to create a safe, equitable and prosperous Rochester.”
“The past few years put a spotlight on the digital inequalities children in the City of Rochester are facing,'' said Senator Jeremy Cooney. “In an increasingly connected world, we must get creative to bridge the digital divide and prepare our community’s young people for academic success, setting them on a path toward professional achievement. I am deeply grateful to see AT&T, Cameron Community Ministries, and the Urban League of Rochester combine efforts on this transformational project and bring modern technology to a historically underserved population in our city.”
“The digital divide in our neighborhoods directly connects to educational achievement, job growth and quality of life. Internet connection creates opportunity and can inspire creativity, entrepreneurship, and more,” said Assemblymember Harry Bronson. “I applaud AT&T, Urban League of Rochester, and Cameron Community Ministries on this new digital learning lab. Transformational change comes from transformational opportunities and this investment will surely help our neighbors unlock their full potential.”
How we will make this happen? The AT&T Digital Learning Lab @ CCM is a collaboration between AT&T, the Urban League and CCM. The lab will provide students and families on Rochester's west side access to computers, tablets, high-speed internet connections, mentoring and other technologies needed for a 21st century education.
AT&T is also providing free educational resources to the lab to help students and families participate in digital engagement and learning. This includes The Achievery, a new, free digital learning platform created by AT&T designed to make digital learning more engaging, entertaining, and inspiring for K-12 students. Free digital literacy courses and workshops will also be provided to help those who are newly connected build skills and confidence to use computers and mobile devices safely and responsibly.
“Contrary to what many people think, the digital divide gap is widening, not narrowing. The impact of remote learning during COVID-19 will have long term effects on student’s academic success since many students continue to be faced with inequality in digital technologies, skills, or gaps in traditional literacy,” said Olivia Kassoum-Amadou, executive director, Cameron Community Ministries. “As a community-based Digital Learning Lab, in partnership with AT&T and the Rochester Urban League, the lab will provide an opportunity for students and parents to increase their digital literacy and confidence.”
CCM is an Urban Outreach Community Center in the Lyell-Otis Neighborhood of Rochester. Its mission is to work with neighborhood residents and partners to create a vibrant and thriving community through empowerment and advocacy while meeting basic needs. The organization offers many programs including youth after-school and summer programs, a Teen Center, Peace Garden, a free hot meal program that serves lunch daily, an emergency food pantry, and a clothing house that serves community members in need of clothing and housewares.
“Rochester’s students are facing unprecedented barriers to their educational success. Achievement gaps continue to widen. College and career readiness continue to decrease,”said Dr. Seanelle Hawkins, president & CEO, Urban League of Rochester. “Additional community educational supports, especially digital literacy, are more important than ever before. Partnering with AT&T to provide a Digital Learning Lab to this community is a huge step in the right direction.”
“All of our children should have access to a world class education regardless of zip code. In 2022 access to a world class education means access to working computers, laptops, tablets and reliable Wi-Fi,” said Assemblymember Demond Meeks. “Thank you to AT&T, Urban League of Rochester, and Cameron Community Ministries for this partnership which will benefit Rochester’s children and inspire a better future.”
Founded in 1965 as a community-based, nonprofit, providing direct services to low-income and minority individuals within the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding counties, the mission of the Urban League of Rochester is to enable African Americans, Latinos, the poor, and other disadvantaged persons to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights. The organization four-pronged approach for pursuing its mission is: ensuring that our children are well-educated and equipped for economic self-reliance in the 21st century; helping adults attain economic self-sufficiency through good jobs, home ownership, entrepreneurship, and wealth accumulation; ensuring our civil rights by eradicating all barriers to participation; and ensuring that our staff are provided the tools to educate, advocate, and fulfill the mission.
To help students across New York facing the digital divide, AT&T teamed up with Digitunity, a national non-profit that works through a wide device refurbisher network to advance device ownership and promote technology reuse, to provide more than 6,000 refurbished laptops and digital literacy support to organizations serving K-12 students and their families. In addition, AT&T collaborated with Connected Nation to provide students across the state more than 3,500 free hotspots and over a year of internet access to help them with virtual learning. AT&T also continues to invest in bringing wireless broadband and connectivity to this region. From 2019-2021, the company expanded coverage and improved connectivity with a nearly $1.6 billion investment in its wireless network in the New York.
Digital knowledge has become the new literacy driving the development of critical global technology. With the growing demand to innovate, organizations across various industries are struggling to fill skilled positions. It's projected that there will be 3.5 million STEM jobs in the U.S. by 2025, underscoring the importance of providing young New Yorkers with both the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy. This urgency is accentuated by the low rates of diversity within the technology industry, which makes efforts like AT&T’s work to provide programing resources like the AT&T Digital Learning Lab @ CMM for youth of all backgrounds and economic situations even more important.
This digital inclusion initiative grows out of AT&T’s legacy of supporting educational programs focused on digital literacy disciplines throughout New York State. AT&T is committed to leveraging technology and social innovation to help give New Yorkers – regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status – the opportunity to succeed by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems that promote racial equity in academic and economic achievement.
Learn more at att.com/connectedlearning.
1 Source: digitalbridgek12.org
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