Ashbury Community Center celebrates new AT&T Learning Center with block party, free computers

Mother and kids visit CLC block partyCourtesy of AT&T Connected CenterMother and kids visit CLC block party

Back in March, when AT&T opened its second Cleveland Connected Learning Center in Glenville’s Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center (ASC3), the goal was to fulfill ASC3’s mission is to bridge the digital divide in Cleveland's underserved neighborhoods by addressing the technology needs of mature and older adults with limited income via education, resources and training through technology literacy and access to technology.

ASC3’s founder and executive director Wanda Davis also saw the partnership with AT&T as year another way to senior residents in the Glenville neighborhood improve their computer literacy and easily connect to the internet.

Davis, who started ASC3 more than 20 years ago to help close the digital divide among Glenville seniors and bring connectivity to everyone in the neighborhood, was hopeful that when the AT&T Connected Learning Center opened on March 3 at ASC3, Glenville was one step close in bridging that digital gap.

On Saturday, April 30, AT&T and ASC3 hosted a neighborhood block party at the center, 11011 Ashbury Ave. The party focused on broadband affordability, availability and adoption to address residents’ needs for broadband internet access at home.

The event had a good turnout, with area residents coming the ASC3 to learn about eligibility for free internet service by combining the $30 a month benefit from the new federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) with AT&T’s $30 Access plan, which provides internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

“Making home internet affordable for low-income households is an important step toward closing the digital divide,” says Molly Kocour Boyle, president of AT&T Ohio. “The Access from AT&T plan works in concert with the federal ACP benefit. Free internet service can be the difference in getting homework done, being able to apply for a job, or receiving medical care.”

After learning about affordable internet plans block party attendees enjoyed a food truck offering burgers and other lunch items, a video game truck, face painting. Neighbors socialized while line dancing to a DJ.

<span class="content-image-text">CLC block party dance</span>CLC block party danceAs part of the AT&T Connected Learning initiative, this year the NBA Cares is providing 500 refurbished computers to underserved families in Cleveland. At the block party AT&T began to distribute the laptops to families who’ve applied to receive one.

In December AT&T opened its first Connected Learning Center in Ohio at Esperanza, Inc. in Clark Fulton. In September, the company launched the program nationwide with its first Connected Learning Center in Dallas, where AT&T is headquartered.

Esperanza executive director Victor Ruiz addressed the attendees and Boyle when the Esperanza center first opened, commenting on the traffic he’s seen since the Connected Learning Center opened at Esperanza.

“The amount of traffic that we're getting, people [are] just walking in or making appointments,” Ruiz told the group. “Everything from resume building to actually taking online courses has been not only amazing but also transformative for our center and has opened up our eyes and our imagination to what else we can do. So. thank you for that. And together, as we, each of us, take these steps, it’s another step toward closing the digital divide.”

AT&T has expanded its fiber network to nearly 300 Glenville area residences and will continue to invest in bringing fiber and connectivity to the Cleveland area.

From 2018 to 2020, AT&T expanded coverage and improved connectivity with almost $350 million investment in wireless and wireline networks in metro Cleveland.

Earlier this year the company announced it would be opening 20 Connected Learning Centers across the country as part of its Connected Learning program—part of a three-year $2 billion commitment to bridge the digital divide through efforts that promote broadband affordability, accessibility, and adoption— and Cleveland would be one of the first eight cities to get a Center.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.