Lowell Benefits From the Broadband Stimulus Program


Computerworld on-line notes that the “broadband stimulus program” wasn’t created just to bring broadband to underserved rural areas but it was also designed to create education centers to teach and train people  to access and use the Web.

There has been a particular need for such centers in cities such as Lowell, Mass., where many people have lost their jobs in the manufacturing industry and are now looking to change their careers. Shannon Robichaud, the director of education and training at the non-profit Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI), says many workers who have had the same jobs for a long time simply had no idea how important computers and the Internet have become to finding a new job.”I’ve had people who have worked on machine their whole lives and they’re coming in to learn the basics,” she says. “To even apply for any kind of job nowadays you have to go online.”

UMass Lowell is an important partner and player in this education process:

Lowell became a testing ground for broadband adoption and education programs earlier this year when the University of Massachusetts in Lowell won a $783,000 grant to build 11 public computer centers in and around the city. The grant was awarded as part of the $4 billion in broadband stimulus funding released by the government last year. Six months after receiving the grant, UMass and its partners in the Lowell community had all 11 public centers up and running and ready for classes, which typically occur twice a week and are taught by UMass Lowell students. Class subjects range from basic computer literacy courses to advanced classes in online media development.

Read more here about about the education centers – not just for job training – but those that are sited in such places as the local  Boys and Girls Club and the Senior Center. As Cheryl Amey the associate executive director for Workforce Development at CTI notes

“We want this program to really make a difference in peoples’ lives. After all, you can’t get very far today without strong computer skills.”