BTOP Case Study Two: Susan Walters, Senior Vice President, California Emerging Technology Fund
As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting California sustainable broadband adoption grantee CETF.
The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a non-profit working to close the state's digital divide, is using a Recovery Act investment to provide computer, digital literacy and workforce training for low-income communities and other vulnerable populations. CETF works through 19 partners statewide, including non-profits that offer job training and career development services for the unemployed and homeless. Two of those organizations, Chrysalis in Southern California and The Stride Center in Northern California, are using Recovery Act funding to train clients in information technology skills and place graduates in IT positions. CETF also works with partners such as the Chicana Latina Foundation and Youth Radio, to raise awareness of the importance of broadband and ensure its programs serve California's diverse population - from Hispanic farm workers in the Central Valley to seniors in San Francisco's Chinatown. Classes are offered in Spanish, Chinese and other languages.
Chrysalis Computer Lab
Walters reported that more than 1,000 people, including former addicts, parolees and chronically unemployed, are now working in information and communications technology jobs because of the Recovery Act investment. These jobs, she stressed, pay starting salaries of $40,000 to $60,000 a year, bring economic self-sufficiency and offer promising futures. And while Walters credits BTOP with helping to make it all possible, she said the “real heroes are those who complete rigorous job training programs - those adults who take a risk and enroll in a digital literacy class in addition to having two or three very low-wage jobs, and parents with low literacy levels who enroll in training because they think it will help their children have a better life.”