MCFS recently began partnering with an amazing organization in St. Paul called Neighborhood House. Since 1897, the organization has been serving people from all over the world who have relocated to Minnesota to build a better life for themselves and their families.
One of the goals of Neighborhood House is to help immigrants and refugees bridge the digital divide. Many participants have never used a computer and are uncomfortable around technology. Daily living – things like looking up the bus schedule, applying for jobs, paying bills and keeping in touch with family – is more difficult without access to a computer and the skills necessary to use it effectively.
MCFS and Neighborhood House joined forces to equip participants with their own computers as well as teach them the skills necessary to effectively use technology. The program works like this – participants who don’t have a computer at home and who are enrolled in at least one of the education courses offered by Neighborhood House must:
- Complete four hours of community service.
- Attend at least two training classes held at Neighborhood House where they are taught basic computer skills, how to take care of a computer and how to use the Internet.
Once those requirements are met, participants are eligible to earn a free laptop. In the past year, MCFS has provided 44 computers to give to eligible Neighborhood House participants.
Having access to a computer and the learning the skills to use it are a necessity in today’s world. Through this program, Neighborhood House and MCFS are teaching participants not only how to use a computer, but how to problem solve, communicate and think critically, in turn empowering them to build the lives they’ve always dreamed of for their families.