I’ve been working on the public launch of this program for a few months, and have known about the program for much longer. The April 20th launch (news conference, etc.) of WeCAN Works was a resounding success. Congratulations to all involved, including the partners:
- Houston Public Library
- City of Houston
- Microsoft Corporation
- Houston Independent School District
- Houston Community College System
- Workforce Solutions
- Greater Houston Partnership
What’s the big fuss? To borrow words from the Library Journal:
The Houston Public Library (HPL) continues to be a major player in the city’s literacy and employment efforts, as it has been awarded a $4.5 million grant from the Microsoft Corporation. The grant benefits WeCAN Works (Wireless Empowered Community Access Network), a literacy and workforce preparedness project launched as part of the Houston Digital Inclusion Initiative (DII), which is managed by HPL.
The Microsoft Unlimited Potential grant includes $4.3 million in software (listed at bottom) and $200,000 in cash over a two-year period and represents the largest donation on record from the corporation, according to the City of Houston news release. The money will support more digital literacy training opportunities on weekends and evenings, fund additional workplace apprenticeship opportunities for students, and pay for GED certifications over the two-year period.
Not bad. My contribution to the story:
HPL spokesperson Sandra Fernandez told LJ that no extra staff will be hired, but “there may be a need to bring on more computer class trainers to supplement existing staff and deliver the expanded digital literacy training,” especially in Track III implementation. (The DII also is in the process of building free wireless, high-speed connections in ten neighborhoods.)
The launch net stories in the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Business Journal, Library Journal, and local TV and Radio stations. More info on the Digital Inclusion Initiative is available at www.houstonwecan.org.