City College’s Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement program (MESA) has partnered with California Connects in an alliance to improve digital literacy among segments of the local population who cannot afford, or do not have access to, computers or the internet.
Forty-seven students enrolled in the MESA program received new laptops in March in order to become digital literacy trainers for the California Connects program.
These student trainers are required to work with a minimum of two family members, five community members, and accomplish at least 12 hours of training in the community.
A $10.9 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is what funds the California Connects program.
Rafael Alvarez, Director of the MESA program, estimated that these trainers will impact approximately 525 community members.
“The spirit of this is to impact our communities. The students are really getting that spirit, they’re looking for opportunities as to where they can impact their communities,” Alvarez said.
According to a City College press release, the California Connects program is designed to improve the digital literacy divide in under-served communities, specifically Spanish-speaking and economically disadvantaged households.
“There’s a lot of displaced, disengaged groups in our community who are not on that digital train and are literally being left behind,” Alvarez said.
Each digital literacy trainer will receive a Microsoft Office Suite certification in either Word, Excel or Power Point and will choose a specific area of the community to work with.
Teresa Sandoval, Mathematics major, said she will be working with local high schools.
“It made me feel proud that I made an accomplishment in their life,” Sandoval said, “As long as they’re getting better I’m getting better too. There’s a win either way.”
Student digital literacy trainers are given the laptop, loaded with six months of broadband internet access, to use for the program, as well as their own academic and personal needs.
Angelica Rojas, Civil Engineering major, said she has already helped her brother set up a Facebook account in order to help him communicate with his friends in Mexico.
“It shows that you can use your skills to teach others. You’re teaching them but you’re also learning from them,” Rojas said.