Earlier this month, approximately 50 students from the College of the Canyons Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement program were awarded new laptops as part of California Connects, a statewide program designed to increase digital literacy and broadband access throughout the state’s underserved communities.
The HP laptops — which were distributed to students who agreed to serve as community trainers in the coming months — come fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology provided by companies including Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, AT&T and Insight Technology Solutions.
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In the coming weeks these 50 MESA students will receive intensive hands-on training and instruction on how to use this technology through the Microsoft IT Academy Program and the California Connects digital literacy website.
After their training is complete, students will then go out into the community and help others, who may not have access to a computer and/or lack the knowledge of navigating the Internet, how to use this technology for essential tasks such as securing gainful employment, exploring higher education opportunities, accessing health and finance resources and advancing the general quality of their life.
“Our students were so excited to receive their laptops,” said Susan Crowther, director of the college’s MESA program. “We in the MESA program felt fortunate to be able to award these machines to such community-minded students.”
The end result is computers that students can use in their academic pursuits while they receive the tools and training necessary to educate friends, family and other community members, and ultimately help increase the state’s number of broadband Internet users by more than 61,000 individuals by 2013.
Over the next three years a total of 5,800 laptops will be distributed to MESA students at 33 California Community College campuses to help accomplish this goal.
“The federal government recognizes that California’s community colleges and students are uniquely qualified to help close our nation’s digital divide. That’s something we can all be proud of,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott. “This program will give our students the necessary tools and training to provide access for underserved populations to the Internet, while building the state’s foundation for economic growth and job creation.”
Administered by the California Community College Chancellor’s office, MESA is an academic preparation program that supports students from educationally-disadvantaged backgrounds so they will succeed in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field and attain degrees in these majors.
“The California Connects program will greatly benefit those in our community who don’t have the access or the technological skills that are so important in today’s world,” Crowther said. “It’s exciting for our MESA students to have this unique opportunity to make a valuable and lasting contribution through their community service as digital literacy trainers.”
California Connects is funded by a $10.9 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.