Through March 2012, Boat People SOS (BPSOS) delivered approximately 3,000 hours of training to more than 3,000 participants at public computer centers in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, and Louisville, Kentucky. BPSOS is implementing its Neighborhood Empowerment and Support through Teamwork (NEST) program to provide broadband access, training, education, and support to economically vulnerable individuals in these communities, both of which have significant Vietnamese immigrant and refugee populations.
BPSOS’s goal is to help people in these communities fully participate in today’s digital world by providing tools for economic and educational advancement. Through the NEST program, individuals participate in a variety of digital literacy and workforce development classes such as basic computer learning, English as a second language (ESL), resume building and job searches, how to use Skype and social media to communicate with family members abroad, and U.S. citizenship preparation.
In Bayou La Batre, a fishing and shrimping town of nearly 2,700 inhabitants, BPSOS collaborates with the community to help local fishermen and seafood processing plants reach new customers across the country. Fishing and shrimping business owners, many with limited English proficiency, can visit the BPSOS branch office in Bayou La Batre to obtain training and assistance with digital marketing. Additionally, BPSOS supplied laptops to Alba Middle School for a “rolling lab” on carts. Teachers use the laptops to help teach science, math, social studies, career exploration, and other subjects. BPSOS also equipped the community room of the Bayou Clinic with the technology to provide GED classes in partnership with a charitable organization.
In Louisville, BPSOS’s two computer centers provide training to help community members acquire the digital and workforce development skills needed in today’s economy. The two centers offer classes in basic and advanced computer concepts, ESL, citizenship preparation, online job searches and applications, and other topics. BPSOS also provides tutoring to youth, resources to get parents more involved in the education of their children, and even digital literacy training for senior citizens.