Tec Centro aims at closing achievement gap through free, high-speed internet access | Local News

Tec Centro West is offering free high-speed internet access to the public at its 651 High St. location in Lancaster city.

The public can take advantage of the offer weekdays from 1 to 4 p.m. in Tec Centro West’s computer lab.

The Wi-Fi service comes courtesy of Comcast’s Lift Zones program, which offers faster internet speeds to community centers nationwide for use by students and adults.

“The idea is to provide a space with access to high-speed internet where the public can use their own devices for job search or educational purposes,” said Marlyn Barbosa, Tec Centro’s program director.

An initiative of the Spanish American Civic Association, Tec Centro is the primary provider of bilingual education and skills training for low- to moderate-income individuals. Its services reach more than 1,200 individuals annually, with its core services providing education and skills training to those who are unemployed, under-employed, and families living in poverty.

Barbosa said since there are other agencies that provide kids with access to internet services during after-school programs, Tec Centro decided to open the Lift Zone to the larger community.

“Kids are welcome, of course, but they must be 15 and older or accompanied by a parent if they are under 15,” Barbosa said.

Besides free internet access, the program also offers access to hundreds of hours of educational and digital skills content to help users navigate online learning.

“Access to the internet offers a life-changing pathway for Lancaster County workers to get the skills they need to move up the economic ladder and prepare for the jobs of the future,” said Alka Patel, vice president of external and government affairs for Comcast’s keystone region.

Tec Centro develops educational partnerships throughout the community, leveraging public and private funding to increase access to workforce development programs. The Comcast Lift Zone is an example of such a partnership.

“This is a powerful example of a business using its resources and expertise to come alongside Tec Centro to amplify the community’s access to and effectiveness of our workforce development programs,” Barbosa said of Comcast.

Tec Centro received two grants from Comcast totaling $70,000 to establish a computer lab with the necessary equipment to provide classes for the community, according to Barbosa.

“It’s really a multiuse lab,” Barbosa said. “Our plan is to offer free (English as a second language) and computer literacy classes this fall.”

“Comcast equipped Tec Centro with a Lift Zone to advance their workforce program and provide students and community members access to the training and basic support needed to learn and achieve economic mobility,” Patel said.

Additional information about Tec Centro’s programs and services can be found at www.teccentro.sacapa.org.

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