The Central Coast Broadband Consortium Public Computing Alliance, led by the Monterey County Office of Education, is working to open three new public computer centers, improve 26 existing centers, and offer free digital literacy training to residents of California’s Salinas River Valley region. The Alliance, made up of education organizations, libraries, and other community organizations, hopes that improved broadband access will help address the needs of an area where over half of the population speaks a language other than English at home, and high school graduation rates are low.
On May 4, 2011, Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue joined the Alliance to celebrate the reopening of the Chinatown Community Learning Center. The Center’s 16 lab stations are used to provide free training classes to the community. Classes include an introduction to the digital world as well as classes for Spanish speakers and job seekers. The Center also offers classes for the local homeless population. Students say the Center feels like a community and that classes are creating opportunities for them, helping them to advance and rejoin the workforce.
The Alliance’s primary public computer center is located at the Media Center for Art, Education and Technology (MCAET) in Salinas. In addition, MCAET is launching a mobile digital classroom in September 2011. The semi-tractor trailer truck will travel throughout the Salinas Valley to provide digital media and computer classes to students of all ages. Additional public computer centers and community partners offer training including basic computer and Internet skills, word processing, animation, web design, digital photography, and audio and video production.