The $18 million in federal funding for the city’s KEYSPOT public computing centers and digital access initiatives runs out this summer, but Mayor Michael Nutter has at least one plan for keeping the centers open: invest $624,000 in them.
In his budget address yesterday, Nutter proposed investing in the computing centers in order to continue offering computer training to Philadelphians. Out of the more than 70 computing centers opened since 2011 as part of the city’s public/private Freedom Rings Partnership, the city runs 19 of them out of Parks and Recreation facilities.
While $624,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the $18 million in federal funding the program initially received, it’s important to note that the city had more than two dozen partner organizations on board for the KEYSPOT project. These organizations are also working on ways to find funding that can keep these programs going. Nutter’s budget proposal is also an acknowledgment of the city’s digital divide problem — reports state that anywhere from 40 to 55 percent of households lack Internet access — and the value of continuing to fight it.
City Council will hold hearings on Nutter’s proposed budget, make changes and approve it by June 30.
It’s worth adding that Nutter had a tough time giving that budget address.