The Bronx Digital Divide

Submitted by ub on Sat, 07/26/2014 - 12:30

As part of the recently approved City Council budget, NYC Council Member James Vacca has secured and allocated over $350,000 towards technology initiatives in his district and throughout The Bronx.

Among Vacca’s goals as Chair of the Technology Committee is to bridge the digital divide and provide New Yorkers with greater access to broadband internet and computer training. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers still do not have access to broadband internet, and many don’t even have computers in their homes.

In an effort to close this gap, the Council Member developed the “NYC Digital Inclusion and Literacy Initiative,” which seeks to address the disparities in access to the internet and increase digital literacy. As part of the initiative, each Council district – including the nine districts in the Bronx – will have its own program established through a local non-profit that serves seniors, youth and immigrant communities and focuses on computer training and education, supporting 21st century technology skills development and improving access to high-speed internet. Each Council Member will provide $14,705 to a group of their choice to run a program in their district.

Vacca also allocated $245,000 to purchase 30 SMART Table 442i Collaborative Learning Centers for three schools in his district – nine each for PS 108 in Morris Park and PS 175 in City Island and 12 for PS 392, which is part of the IS 192 building in Throggs Neck. The SMART Table is an interactive, 42” LCD surface designed for early childhood educational use from Pre-K to third grade. The tables encourage face-to-face collaboration among students, and teachers can upload digital content and activities for kids to work on in a group setting. Up to eight students can stand around it and interact simultaneously with the digital content on the surface of a table, making it easy for all students in a group to participate. The SMART Tables will be in place at the schools for the 2015-16 school year.

“In 2014, in a city like New York, it is completely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of people still don’t have access to broadband internet and have never been taught to use a computer,” said Council Member Vacca. “With this funding, we are taking another step forward towards closing the digital disparity by providing tech-based training to the people who need it most and preparing our kids to be at the forefront of this vital sector from an early age.”

Principal Daniel Racic of PS 392 said, “The Bronx Delta School community is extremely grateful to Council Member James Vacca for providing $96,000 in funding to be used to support technology infrastructure in our new elementary school. Much of the funding will be used to purchase SMART Tables, which are large interactive stations (like giant iPads) that can be loaded with teacher created multimedia activities. Each center can support many different activities which will aid students in developing a variety of academic skills. Because SMART Tables support multi-touch technology, students build teamwork and social skills as they collaborate in small groups at each SMART Table. We appreciate Council Member Vacca's strong commitment to public education, and his efforts will help support our school goals of positive social, emotional, and academic change.”