UW community technology program awarded $576,331 federal grant

October 10, 2002

These technology centers are designed to help farm workers and other low-income individuals improve their English literacy, become fluent in the uses of information technology, and provide access to a wide-array of education resources. Both centers will have video conferencing capabilities to communicate with and access resources at the University of Washington and beyond. The proposal was one of 53 selected from a pool of 1,400 applicants.

“Farm working families in our area will now have a means to access information that will facilitate receiving services from such state agencies as the Department of Social & Health Services and Job Service Centers. They will have at their fingertips an educational service that will help them learn and appreciate the convenience of the computer systems. Many will also be able to keep up with the computer skills that their children are learning at school,” said Ricardo R. Garcia, Executive Director of Northwest Communities Education Center.

The funds will allow the partners to create a community technology center at the KDNA radio station in Granger, and another technology center at a Horizons Inc. site in Sunnyside. The funds will also allow the sites to hire three instructors each, to assist farm workers and other low-income families with English classes, computing lessons, vocational programs, and other useful online educational sources.

“The creation of these technology centers will open doors to technology, education and job skills for some of the lower Yakima Valley’s most underserved families,” US Senator Patty Murray said. “I am pleased to have helped provide federal funding for this very worthy cause. By increasing opportunity for farm worker families, we pave the way for new jobs and economic opportunities for our entire community.”

Faculty and graduate students from the UW’s Information School will assist in assembling the online resources needed and assessing the impact of these technology centers and their programs on English proficiency and job skills. “This is a terrific opportunity for the entire Information School faculty and students across all its curricula. We welcome the chance to collaborate and assist with the development of information access and use in these communities,” said Professor Betty Marcoux, one of the UW faculty who will be working closely with this project.

“Horizons Inc. is very excited about this grant to establish Community Technology Centers in our rural communities of Sunnyside and Granger. As partners in this project with the University of Washington, we will be able to draw on the UW’s information technology expertise to serve our clients with English literacy and job skills,” said Tom Gaulke, Executive Director of Horizon Inc.

This is the second grant award to benefit residents of the Yakima Valley. In October 2001 the University of Washington and the Yakama Nation were awarded a grant from the same program to create a technology center in the Yakama Nation Library. This center is already bringing tangible benefits to the community.

“We are pleased to build on our work in the Yakima Valley by creating centers to benefit the Latino and farm worker communities in the area, giving them opportunities to improve their English literacy skills and to learn how to access Internet resources,” said Robert Ozuna, Director of the UW-Yakima Valley Community Partnership.

University of Washington staff, including a large group of volunteer undergraduate students, will help set up the technology centers this fall and winter. The center at Granger will likely open by late December, with the Sunnyside site opening by March.

For media inquiries about this project, contact:

Robert Ozuna, Director, UW-Yakima Valley Community Partnership

509-865-8672, rozuna@u.washington.edu

Louis Fox, Vice Provost, UW Office of Educational Partnerships & Learning Technologies

206-685-4745, lfox@u.washington.edu