A Temple program uses recycled computers from the TECH Center to “wire” North Philadelphia.
In an effort to setup a computer lab for North Philadelphia residents without Internet access, Temple recently donated 15 refurbished computers to the John F. Hartranft Elementary School, located at 720 W. Cumberland St.
“A lot of people who live in North Philadelphia experience a huge digital divide,” said Jonathan Latko, the assistant director of Computer Business Services. “People who live on campus are wired, everyone’s wired, but when you walk off campus a few blocks, you find that many people don’t have access to the Internet.”
The computers came from the Computer Recycling Center, located on the third floor of the TECH Center. The center takes computers Temple no longer uses and refurbishes them for sale or donation.
The computer lab in the elementary school will allow students to use the computers during specific school hours. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, local residents can use the computers freely and take computer programming classes.
“The lab can offer residents to come in and learn basic computer skills,” Latko said. “A lot of job applications are online now, even Temple employment is online. By giving the community access to the Internet, they have a chance at applying for jobs and learning different skills.”
In 2009, the Computer Recycling Center donated refurbished computers to the Norris Homes. Soon, the center willdonateas many as five computers to Tree House Books, an organization the center helped clean out its old electronics.
Latko said that on average, the center donates approximately 200 computers a year. However, its focus is on teaching residents how to properly use them, not on the number of computers it donates.
Some of the classes available to residents vary in subjects from word processing to medical office and accounts. Residents can learn computer skills necessary to deal with medical records – a job many could apply for.
“I’m sure that a lot of people don’t have Internet around here,” community member Gerald Taylor, 52, said. “But this computer lab, and the classes they’re offering, sounds like they’d benefit a lot of people around here who are trying to get jobs and fill out applications.”
Like many different schools and organizations, Hartranft contacted the Computer Recycling Center and Office of Community Relations, with his need and idea of a computer lab within the school.
Shirley Moy, the associate director of the Center for Social Policy, received funds from a grant to help fund the programs that will be taught by Hartranft.
Professors and personnel of the university will take turns teaching residents computer basics and how to benefit from the Internet.
“Opening a computer lab with free Internet is great for people,” community member Lori Jackson, 38, said. “I’m sure a lot of people out there are in need of Internet, it’s hard if you can’t afford it.”
Alyssa Saylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.