Monterey County Office of Education

Central Coast Broadband Consortium Public Computing Alliance

The Monterey County Office of Education, along with a coalition of local community institutions in California, is proposing to establish a series of new and enhanced public computer centers across the county that will serve economically vulnerable populations, increase public computer access, and provide training in digital media production. According to Census Bureau data, only about 70 percent of adults in the Salinas River Valley region have a high school degree or its equivalent, and over half of the population of Monterey County speak a language other than English at home. These factors create a unique need for specialized economic development efforts, which can be greatly enhanced by improved access to and awareness of the benefits of broadband. To this end, the project proposes expanding the Office of Education’s Career Technology Education Center in Salinas, which provides high school students with 360 hours of training to receive a certificate in digital media production skills and the opportunity to obtain vocational placement or continue their training at Hartnell College. The project would also extend training to parents and other adult learners through the Center and via the mobile digital media classroom that would travel throughout the region. Hartnell College also plans to expand its access and training programs to its Alisal and King City satellite campuses.

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BTOP In Action
Community Learning Center students help each other during an assignment

The Central Coast Broadband Consortium Public Computing Alliance, led by the Monterey County Office of Education, is working to open three new public computer centers, improve 26 existing centers, and offer free training to residents of California’s Salinas River Valley region. The Alliance, made up of education organizations, libraries, and other community organizations, hopes that improved broadband access will help address the needs of an area where over half of the population speaks a language other than English at home, and high school graduation rates are low.

On May 4, 2011, Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue joined the Alliance to celebrate the reopening of the Chinatown Community Learning Center. The Center’s 16 lab stations are used to provide free training classes to the community. Classes include an introduction to the digital world as well as classes for Spanish speakers and job seekers. The Center also offers classes for the local homeless population. Students say the Center feels like a community and that classes are creating opportunities for them, helping them to advance and rejoin the workforce.

The Alliance’s primary public computer center is located at the Media Center for Art, Education and Technology (MCAET) in Salinas. In addition, MCAET is launching a mobile digital classroom by September 2011. The semi-tractor trailer truck will travel throughout the Salinas Valley to provide digital media and computer classes to students of all ages. Additional public computer centers and community partners offer training including basic computer and Internet skills, word processing, animation, web design, digital photography, and audio and video production.

Last Updated: October 17, 2011.

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