KeySpot initiative to help Philly residents get online seeks new funding

With KeySpot, Philadelphia’s Freedom Rings Partnership established computer labs around the city with the goal of improving access to technology for city residents.

The partners hope to find the money to keep the centers open after this summer.

The program opened 70 or so “key spots” around Philadelphia — equipped not just with computers, but with educators and classes.

Marlene Younger has a flier in her purse for a course she plans to take on using technology and the web.  

“It’s gonna take over a lot of things that you’re really going to need it to work with,” she said.

A big part of the funding for Younger’s classes and the netbook she received came from the federal stimulus. But that money’s going away, leaving the partnership looking for funds to keep a smaller operation going.

Kate Rivera, project director at the Urban Affairs Coalition, thinks the program has a future.

“We’re looking at a variety of sources of funding, both public and private, and really looking at what makes the most sense for the program,” she said.

City officials consider this initiative extremely successful. So much so that, even in these lean times, Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget proposal includes almost $2 million over three years to keep the key spots open in public libraries and recreation centers.

That allotment could also fund a third of the costs for the remaining key spots in nonprofit community centers. Those nonprofits may also contribute more cash.

Donna Frisby-Greenwood, program director at the Knight Foundation, said her group has its eye on the situation.

“They are looking for additional funding to keep key spots open,” she said. “We at the Knight Foundation are looking at this opportunity as well.”

The partnership estimates that, currently, half of Philadelphians don’t use email or apply for jobs through the Internet.

This disclosure, WHYY has received funding from the Knight Foundation.

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