Cambridge Housing Authority

Cambridge Housing Authority Community Computer Centers

The Cambridge Housing Authority Community Computer Centers project plans to reopen and expand three public computer centers that serve approximately 10,000 public housing residents, including low-income households, immigrants, seniors, and minorities. The Cambridge Housing Authority intends to replace 24 workstations and add 16 new ones at the centers to serve an expected 420 new users per week with access to broadband technology, computer courses, job training, and literacy programs.

Total Award: 
$698,924
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Photo: “Cambridge Housing Authority BTOP in Action Students Using Computer”

The Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) re-opened two community computer centers, created a third, and started teaching digital literacy courses again in September 2010 after receiving BTOP funds. State budget cuts had forced CHA to close computer centers that offered job and computer training to more than 10,000 low-income public housing residents. With BTOP funds, CHA, in collaboration with the Cambridge Employment Program, moved quickly to host a clinic to help people conduct online job searches, prepare resumes, and submit resumes to potential employers. CHA also started five-week advanced computer classes and 15-week basic computer skills classes, which are offered to local residents. More than 30 participants signed up for the first five-week program focused on using Microsoft Office® productivity software and conducting online job searches. The 15-week course also has gained momentum with more than 72 students participating in specialized classes on digital editing and publishing software. CHA has also reinstated other services, such as the digital enhancement of its Gateway English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course and its family literacy and support program, Reading on Computers with Kids. Reopening the centers has already helped secure employment for 15 adults, all of whom faced being laid off after the computer centers closed in July 2008.

The BTOP funds also allowed the CHA to reopen and expand the digital component of its Work Force program, which provides comprehensive life-skills and vocational training for low-income youth. Participants receive academic tutoring, academic testing prep work, and mentored employment opportunities from eighth grade through their senior year of high school. Students use the computer labs to develop resumes, fill out job applications, and perform college searches.

Last Updated: October 14, 2011

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