Yonkers sees free internet downtown though program with free laptops | #education | #technology | #training

  • 50,000 Westchester residents cannot afford internet, and 30,000 do not own a computer.

The concept is straightforward. Give people internet in their homes, and the devices and training on how to use them, and they’ll be better able to rise socioeconomically.

A new pilot program is underway in a section of Yonkers known for a shortage of internet and technology that does just that — gives people Chromebooks, provides training on how to use them and supplies free internet for a year.

“We can keep filling bags with food,” said Margaret Kaufer, president of the STEM Alliance, but this kind of effort allows people to rise economically so they don’t need the handout. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Frantz Lucien Jr., the STEM Alliance Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for the Y-Zone, works with Fe Bulatewicz on learning the basics of computing, during a class at 111 Waverly Street in Yonkers, Dec. 1, 2021.

And it goes beyond giving people more tools to stay connected.

“What we’re trying to put together is real data,” said Bob Cacace, the city’s Commissioner of Information Technology. Data on how much people use the internet will help show the state and county this kind of model could be a good use of funds from the federal infrastructure bill and American Rescue Plan, Cacace said. 

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