The District of Columbia Housing Authority, Office of State Superintendent of Education, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Byte Back, and Project Reboot welcomed the community to the newly renovated Frederick Douglass Community Center.
The nearly $450,000 renovated building now features a community space and a technology training area, a computer refurbishing and retail space, and a commercial kitchen.
“I’m so proud to reopen the doors to the Frederick Douglass Center to the Henson Ridge community and its neighbors,” said DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman. “Not only will this center bring community together, but it also will provide job training, computer training, and other opportunities to inspire this community.”
The center’s renovation was made possible through funding from OSSE.
“OSSE is very much involved in supporting families and helping their children be successful in school. We know more than ever that having a working computer in homes benefits not only school children, but their siblings and parents. We are incredibly hopeful that this partnership among D.C. Government agencies, Project Reboot, and Byte Back will begin to address the digital divide in the District while expanding educational opportunities for students and parents,” State Superintendent Hanseul Kang said.
Project Reboot’s all-volunteer staff repairs and refurbishes computer equipment that is donated to their organization. They then sell those almost-new computers to low-income families, people with disabilities, and non-profit agencies at a greatly reduced price. Project Reboot will spend four days per week rebuilding equipment and two days per week selling their hard work. The group also plans to offer skills development.
“Project Reboot is excited to come to the District of Columbia. We have served D.C. residents for years from our location in Rockville. This new location will allow us to serve D.C. residents by providing computers, repair services, and training all at one location,” said Dennis Courtney, president of Capital PC User Group, Inc. and Project Reboot.
The Frederick Douglass Community Center will address another area of the digital divide by offering free technology training to the community in partnership with Byte Back. This organization improves economic opportunity by providing computer training and career preparation to underserved Washington, D.C. residents. Byte Back will offer training—from basic digital literacy through certification classes—in the community room. The organization will couple this training with job readiness and career support services.
“Byte Back is thrilled to partner with the D.C. Housing Authority and Project Reboot to provide digital training at the Frederick Douglass Community Center. With the opening of this center, more residents in Southeast, D.C. will be able to gain computer skills, confidently apply for jobs online, and succeed in digital work environments in the District,” said Elizabeth Lindsey, executive director of Byte Back.
The District of Columbia is one of 28 communities nationwide selected by HUD to participate in the ConnectHome initiative. The local program, dcConnectHome, uses a holistic approach based on the belief that effective, sustainable digital inclusion includes the entire family.
ByteBack will have the flexibility to maximize the use of the community room and reach a wide audience of DCHA residents thanks to the donation of five refurbished laptop computers by the JBG Companies, one of dcConnectHome’s newest partners. This donation of laptop computers is the first made by a local organization to support dcConnectHome and to the efforts of DCHA to make digital literacy more accessible for residents. The first donation of devices was in July 2016 when the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) facilitated a donation of tablet devices from Google to the middle-school age girls who participated in the AspireIT summer computer workshop.
“This is exactly what can happen when District agencies and their non-profit partners work closely together for a common goal – getting every resident of the District connected,” D.C. Chief Technology Officer Archana Vemulapalli said. “Coordinating the successful move of Project Reboot to Ward 8 gives D.C. residents access to equipment they need and the opportunity to volunteer and learn how to train the next generation of computer technicians is big win.”
In addition to the techhub, DCHA’s Family Self-Sufficiency program will be at the Frederick Douglass Community Center. The program teams the customer up with DCHA and community partner organizations that will help customers achieve their own goals—from gaining employment, improving their financial literacy, or even owning their own home.