Oakland, IBM Team Up to Offer Computer Training in Public Housing

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OAKLAND, Calif. - 04 Feb 1998: -The City of Oakland, the IBM Corp. and Bridge West Oakland Housing, Inc. today announced details of a $1.2 million plan to install a computer training facility in a public housing development -- including network stations in each apartment -- so that welfare and low-income residents can learn critical job skills in their homes.

The project will make it easier for residents to get needed job training. For example, single mothers on welfare with small children at home will be able to train without having to worry about transportation and child care. In addition, their children will be able to use the system for school work.

``I'm excited about this unique partnership,'' said Oakland Mayor Elihu M. Harris. ``We have the opportunity to educate many residents who will soon have to enter the work force as a result of welfare reform.''

``We're delighted to be involved in this unique and very worthwhile project,'' said Bernard Bowler, IBM's industry executive for government and higher education in California. ``Although this is a for-profit venture for us, IBM is contributing nearly $240,000 in discounts on products and services to help ensure its success. In addition, Pacific Bell Network Integration, which is installing cables for us, is contributing $100,000 in discounts on its work.''

A Learning Center will be built on the grounds of the Acorn I housing development, which is owned and operated by Bridge West Oakland Housing, and is currently being remodeled. Two IBM PC servers in the Learning Center will be linked via a local area network (LAN) to IBM Network Stations in each of the 206 apartments under renovation. The project is expected to be completed early next year.

``This is an excellent example of network computing technology,'' Bowler said. ``Network Stations combine the cost-effectiveness and low-maintenance benefits of dumb terminals with the versatility of PCs. They use only seven watts of electricity -- about the same as a nightlight -- and last longer because there are no moving parts. And since information and programs reside on a central server, you only have to fix problems or update material in one place instead of 206.''

IBM will also design and provide the educational content. Adults will learn basic computer skills such as typing, word processing, spreadsheets and access to the Internet. In addition, training will be tailored to the needs of local businesses. Graduates will be certified by IBM and the city will work with the business community to place residents in appropriate jobs.

IBM's education and training organization is the largest information technology training company in the world, offering more than 6,000 courses worldwide.

The project will also involve Oakland schools to determine what educational software could augment class work being performed by Acorn students.

In addition to the schools, the project has the backing of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Allen Temple Baptist Church and local chapters of the NAACP and 100 Black Men.

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