Wilmington’s Southbridge Receives $191,000 to Bridge the Digital Divide

WILMINGTON, DE – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Joe Biden announced today a new effort that will provide free computer access and training to the residents of Southbridge, one of Wilmington’s most economically depressed areas. According to the Senators, the Neighborhood House, a non-profit, community center has been awarded $191,000 in federal funding to establish a state-of-the-art Family Technology Center that will offer both children and adults access to computers and Internet instruction. “We can improve the educational opportunities offered to inner city students and their families. We can improve their overall academic performance, give them a better chance at earning good grades and developing needed social, communication and job skills,” Carper said. “With Delaware’s new academic standards it is apparent that without assistance, the gap between those that have access to computers and those who do not, will continue to widen.” “The simple fact is this: if you do not have access to a computer, you can’t develop the skills to use it and as a result, you are sorely disadvantaged in today’s world,” said Senator Biden. “Access to computers and training means access to unlimited information and unlimited opportunities – things that are sometimes scarce in areas like Southbridge. This is about leveling the playing field and giving everyone a fair chance to succeed.” When the Family Technology Center opens next spring, Christina School District students will be able to take their school bus directly to Neighborhood House and receive hours of computer based instruction that directly relates to their class work. After school each day two Christina School District Title 1 teachers will provide instruction in computer and Internet literacy skills. To maintain the program’s self sufficiency, Del-Tech will specially train ten neighborhood residents to teach basic computer skills to others in the community. The longer-term goal of this effort is to provide in-home Internet access and training to each Southbridge household where a school-aged child resides. “Neighborhood House Inc., with the expert consultation of James Bonds and BoardRoom Presentation, is proud to be the lead agency in this exciting project to bring computer training and internet access to every South Wilmington household,” said Arthur Boswell, Executive Director of Neighborhood House, Inc. “By partnering with the Christina School District, Delaware Technical Community College, Our Youth Inc., The University of Delaware and the Wilmington Housing Authority, Neighborhood House will be able to open our Family Technology Center early next year.” Senators Carper and Biden have long been leaders in the effort to bridge the digital divide. Under Carper’s leadership as governor, Delaware became the first state in the nation to wire every public school classroom with fiber optic cable. Delaware leads the nation in providing students with access to computers in classrooms. Last year, Senator Biden joined forces with America Online CEO Steve Case in launching a nationwide effort called “Kids 2000,” a public-private partnership that authorized $20 million per year for six years to provide personnel, training and infrastructure upgrades at the Boys & Girls Clubs computer centers throughout the nation.