23 Receive Free Laptops after Program Graduation

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Twenty-three public housing residents graduated Thursday from a series of digital literacy classes that are part of a new connectivity program offered by the town of Chapel Hill.

The participants attended classes taught over four weeks by workers and volunteers from Durham-based Kramden Institute. Thursday, they were able to take home for free the refurbished laptops they’d learned how to use.

Some class participants will also soon have free Internet connection in their homes. AT&T will be wiring eight of the 13 public housing neighborhoods and will offer a free connection for the next five years.

Class participant Tiera Jackson said that although she has Internet in her home right now, the bill is very expensive. She estimates she pays $146 a month for both Internet and television service.

Another class participant, Stephanie Brown, agreed.
“I’m breaking my neck to keep up with the payment,” she said. “When you’re working part-time, every little bit helps.”

Participant Nurul Khan said he was proud of Chapel Hill for offering such a program to its residents.

“This computer training is a pathway for children’s education,” he said. “This knowledge is the prime conduit of walking ahead.”

Many said they’d use the computer to help them both with everyday life and with long-term dreams.

Jackson, a student at Alamance Community College, said the computer would help her and her grandmother, both of whom are aspiring writers.

Brown, who works part-time as a housekeeper, said she planned to start job applications with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Thursday as soon as she took her laptop home.

“Computers are so much now,” she said. “You can’t get a job without it.”

Brown is also trying to open a third-shift daycare program, and she said the laptop will help with her bookkeeping for the company.

“You just can’t imagine the big help it’s going to be when we’re trying to reach our goals,” she said.

Read more here: http://www.heraldsun.com/news/x399476674/23-receive-free-laptops-after-program-graduation

By Katie Jansen
The Herald-Sun, July 13, 2015