Tallahassee has been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant to help expand broadband services in low-income neighborhoods, a distinction announced by Vice President Joe Biden last week. As one of 94 cities slated to receive federal Recovery Act funds for local broadband services, Tallahassee is seeking to improve or expand already existing projects geared towards bridging the digital divide.

City press releases say

funds from the $1,212,020 grant will be applied to use broadband technology to enhance workforce skills, educational opportunities and digital literacy among Tallahassee low-income or low-literacy residents. Specific initiatives include improving the technology facility in the Apalachee Ridge neighborhood and continuing efforts as part of the Digital Harmony project centered at Nims Middle School.

“I’m proud of the combined efforts by my office and City staff that led to this award,” said Mayor Marks. “I want to thank Vice President Biden and federal officials for recognizing Tallahassee’s proactive stance on using technological resources to help economically disadvantaged citizens of all ages in our city.”

Don DeLoach, Chief Officer of Information Systems Services, told The Florida Independent that the funds will expand the scope of current projects to include workforce development and job readiness programs for adults:

The monies will, in partnership with the Alliance for Digital Equality, provide for a program called Learning Without Walls. It’s a two-phase project with both adult and childhood education. They’ve partnered with Lexicon and tutor.com to help students with their homework, and the adults would get things like training for job interviews and things of that nature.

Second is the Digital Harmony Project, which is in continuation with our three-year project that the city was involved in at Nims Middle School, where we provided every sixth grader with a P.C., and Comcast was providing a free home Internet connection for help with their schoolwork.

“The program has mostly been a K-12 program for students with computers: getting access to the Internet, using them in and out of school, etc.,” says Claire Harleston of the Alliance for Digital Equality. “We’d like to expand some parts of that program, specifically the live online tutoring, to adults where we’d have some workforce development or job readiness training using online tools, learning how to use the Internet, Word, PowerPoint, and make sure everyone has an email account.”

The Tallahassee City Commission will review the grant award from the U.S. Department of Commerce next month.

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