Parkridge Community Center helping to bridge the digital divide

March 4, 2021 Rich Rezler

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Social and emotional well-being of students is part of the goal of a new learning lab offered at the Parkridge Community Center. A grant will help parents with digital literacy skills. (WCC File Photo)

 

A $60,000 grant to Washtenaw Community College and the Parkridge Community Center will help bridge the digital divide that exists in the Ypsilanti neighborhood the center serves.

And that’s only a part of help available at Parkridge. The center also recently became the location of the first in-person and virtual learning lab offered by Ypsilanti Community Schools.

“Given the state of the world right now, it is imperative that individuals have not only an understanding, but in-depth knowledge of how to utilize technology,” said WCC Associate Vice President of Workforce and Community Development Brandon Tucker.

“Our programming efforts this summer and fall have highlighted that a number of parents are in need of the necessary digital literacy skills to be successful in the workplace, providing children with help during virtual learning and navigating the use of the internet for personal responsibilities.”

Funding for the Parkridge Community Center Digital Literacy Initiative is a portion of a $250,000 Youth Development Grant from the State of Michigan for the purpose of addressing community need that has been exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will allow an upgrade to the technology and bandwidth at the center, which serves as a technology support resource for student learning and community support.

WCC and the City of Ypsilanti have partnered since 2012 to provide youth and community programming at the center.

Director of College & Career Readiness Anthony Williamson said it’s imperative to bridge the digital divide and help adults learn essential basic digital literacy skills.

“Our project will help parents become better equipped to assist their children with their education via virtual learning platforms,” Williamson said.

Meanwhile, the Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) learning lab at Parkridge is geared toward keeping students on track academically while supporting their social and emotional needs.

YCS superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross offered an update at the January meeting of the WCC Board of Trustees, saying the learning lab — being used by Ypsilanti K-5 students — is “invaluable.”

“We are certainly changing lives of our students with this opportunity,” she said.

Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw County are also partners in the learning lab model, which the school district is expanding to apartment complexes, churches and other non-profit centers around Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.

The Parkridge Community Center Digital Literacy Initiative was sponsored by State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor). The state’s Racial Equity Office is working with organizations selected to receive grant funding.  Washtenaw County is serving as fiduciary for the 2021 Youth Development Grant.