Underserved Philadelphia Neighborhoods to Gain Crucial Internet Access

Philadelphia, PA, October 19–Philadelphians living in some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods will soon have access to internet services provided by four Free Library of Philadelphia mobile computer outposts. 

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is providing $760,000 in funding for the outposts, as part of a national initiative to improve Internet access and expand digital literacy skills.

 “Internet access is a prerequisite to being an informed and engaged citizen in the digital age – whether you’re looking for information on health issues, school scholarships or trying to find employment,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Philadelphia Program Director for Knight Foundation. “Libraries are essential hubs for that access, and for the training to use it effectively.”

In Philadelphia, where more than 40 percent of residents do not have home Internet access, the Free Library provides an importance service.

“A major part of reviving the economic vitality of Philadelphia involves giving residents access to the tools that will allow them to become fully contributing members of the 21st century workforce,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. “These mobile outposts will do just that, ensuring that residents in underserved neighborhoods are given the opportunity to increase their technological literacy and reap the subsequent benefits.”

Each mobile outpost will include six laptops, one printer and all necessary broadband equipment, as well as a small selection of Free Library materials, such as reference materials on job searches. Staffed by trained computer assistants to provide residents with guided instruction as well as open-access Internet usage periods, the outposts will travel to neighborhood focal points in North, West and South Philadelphia such as churches and community centers.

In addition to providing funding for the computing outposts, the grant will allow the Free Library to mount a comprehensive public relations campaign and perform the community outreach necessary for the Library to reach and benefit underserved areas. The grant will also help the Library pilot and prepare for flexible models of service delivery and technology access in the future by sending library services into communities where residents may be reluctant or unable to visit a Free Library branch.

Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia. For more, visit freelibrary.org.

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www. knightfoundation.org.

Contact:
Alix Gerz
Phone: (215) 567-7710