Urban League's technology center to open downtown next month

December 19, 1997|By Stacey Patton | Stacey Patton,SUN STAFF

The National Urban League will open a $1 million community technology center in downtown Baltimore next month in an effort to establish information access for inner-city neighborhoods.

Located in the Baltimore Urban League's headquarters in the historic Orchard Street Church at 512 Orchard St., the center will offer computer classes for students and adults, Internet training, resume writing and high school equivalency preparation.

"It has been almost 160 years since the Orchard Street Church was built," said Roger Lyons president of the Baltimore Urban League. "Back then, the founders' goal was to bring people together in various dialogues. Today we are bringing people together to communicate through technology.

"I think this is a sacred thing we are doing," Lyons said.

The technology center is expected to serve communities that have had very little access not only to information technology, but to community resources in general. The communities served by this project are confronted with illiteracy, unemployment, underemployment and poverty.

"It is important that we shepherd these individuals," Lyons said. "Technology is a driving force in America, and no matter what happens, our constituents need to understand the connections between the global economy and the impact it has on them locally."

The technology center will serve a full range of people from schoolchildren to senior citizens. Offerings will include: online training in word processing, database management, spreadsheet applications, the Internet, resume-writing courses, homework assistance programs and General Educational Development diploma preparation.

The center will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including computer workstations with access to the Internet and other information services for online research and programs. The site will also allow video conferencing and distance learning.

The Bell Atlantic Foundation has given a $1 million grant for the center. The U.S. Department of Commerce is adding a grant of $650,000, and Bell Atlantic-Maryland will make a supplemental grant of $25,000.

National Urban League President Hugh Price said that access to technology is critical for participation in today's society.

"Knowledge of emerging technologies enhances the opportunities available to members of our community to compete and succeed in a new global economy," he said.

Pub Date: 12/19/97

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