KEYSPOT, the city’s federally-funded public-private partnership to bridge the digital divide, opened its 81st computing center at Drexel University‘s Dornsife Center in West Philly’s Mantua neighborhood late last month.
While the long term future of most of the city’s KEYSPOT computer labs is not certain since federal funding is set to run out at the end of September, this one is here to stay. It’s supported in part by a $10 million gift that’s backing the Dornsife Center as a whole, said KEYSPOT project manager Maria Walker.
The Dornsife Center is a neighborhood center spanning 29,400 square feet space at 35th and Spring Garden. The center, funded by the $10 million gift from philanthropists David and Dana Dornsife, has offered free legal and tax services earlier this year but is currently open three days a week exclusively for the KEYSPOT computing center and job workshops.
Like the 80 other KEYSPOT centers around the city, the Dornsife computing center offers free computer classes and open lab time for residents to use its ten computers. In the last two weeks, 75 people have already visited, Walker said.
The effort was spearheaded by KEYSPOT partners Drexel University’s College of Engineering and Philadelphia FIGHT. There was one existing KEYSPOT computing center in Mantua, Walker said, bringing the community’s total to two centers.
In a unique move, the Drexel community partly crowdfunded the Dornsife computer lab’s part-time computer trainer position. Through a partnership with Goodwill Industries, Drexel placed donation bins around campus for one month and the collected revenue helped hire and pay for a computer trainer for Dornsife.
The majority (74, to be specific) of KEYSPOT computing centers launched between December 2011 and August 2012. When asked why the Dornsife computer lab only opened now, Walker said that “the opportunity presented itself” but declined to comment further. The ten computers now at the Dornsife center had previously been purchased as part of the KEYSPOT program, Walker said.-30-
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