The City of Philadelphia

Philadelphia Freedom Rings

The City of Philadelphia is working to close the digital divide by establishing a network of public computer centers to serve the city’s most economically vulnerable residents. The Philadelphia Freedom Rings project plans to create or enhance 77 of these centers, with the goal of providing access for an additional 13,000 residents on a weekly basis. Most of the centers will be located in neighborhoods with the least access to broadband and in greatest need of economic development, specifically neighborhoods in North, West, and South Philadelphia where the child poverty rate can reach 40% and fewer than half the homes have Internet access. The project plans to provide broadband education, awareness, training, access, and equipment by way of these centers located in 19 recreation centers, 10 homeless shelters, 15 affordable housing sites, libraries, and community-based organizations working with high-risk populations, thus driving broadband demand, local economic growth, and job creation.

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BTOP In Action
Mayor Michael Nutter and Congressman Bob Brady

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter helped launch the Freedom Rings Partnership at the April 26, 2011, official opening of the FIGHT Computing Center, the first of the project’s 77 public computer centers to provide digital literacy and workforce training opportunities.
FIGHT is one of 13 local agencies working with the city’s Division of Technology to provide broadband Internet access, computers, and training to Philadelphia’s most economically and socially vulnerable populations. The Urban Affairs Coalition, a lead partner in this initiative, will provide computer and technology training opportunities at many computer center locations.

The Freedom Rings Partnership plans to create 177 full-time and part-time jobs. The 77 computer centers will include 19 recreation centers, 29 community-based organization sites working with high-risk populations, 10 homeless shelters, 15 other affordable housing sites, and four mobile labs that will reach communities lacking space or the capacity to house a computer center.

In addition to services provided at citywide computer centers, the Freedom Rings Partnership will encourage Philadelphians to “get connected” to technology in their homes. The participating partners expect to serve approximately 15,000 people per year and use a citywide outreach campaign to deliver information about the importance of broadband technology to more than 100,000 households.

To see local media coverage of the April 26 event, please visit The Philadelphia Inquirer. To read the mayor’s official report about the Recovery Act at work in Philadelphia, please visit here.

Last Updated: October 19, 2011.

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