Lake City computer lab expands its reach

lake city

Participant at the Lake City Computer Lab

The North Seattle Family Center, a program of  Children’s Home Society of Washington, successfully completed a yearlong Technology Matching Fund grant to expand the computer lab at Seattle Housing Authority’s Lake City Court Apartments. The $18,000 in project funds helped 228 low-income and vulnerable residents in North Seattle gain technology access and skills.

Serving a greater diversity  

The project added adaptive equipment to the computer lab, which increased access for individuals with disabilities. Staff also configured the computers to support language capabilities for 35 different languages, including those most commonly found in North Seattle. Participants acquired English language skills through the use of software and internet-based education resources, improving their communication skills in the workplace, the home and in the community. In addition, many  participants received employment readiness training, providing them with technology skills relevant to today’s workplace and increasing their employment opportunities. They also added youth services and open lab time.

Collaboration was key to strong programs

According to Program Manager Ann Fuller, “Collaborating with partnering programs has been key to our lab.” Over the course of the project they worked with Seattle Housing Authority, Seattle Public Library, the Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens, the Literacy Council of Seattle, the City of Seattle’s Health Access program, Techno-Formation Vocational Services (an organization focused on Somali women, youth, and elders), and the University of Washington. Bringing youth and adults together led to development of projects connected with activities in the lab, including working with the North District Council to add a basketball pick-up court and developing a pea patch plot for families using the lab.

Success providing access to services and building community connections   

The project’s greatest success was in providing computer and internet access to people who cannot afford or don’t know how to use these services. “So many things are based on computer knowledge and internet access, that children and families are being left behind and missing out on opportunities in business, schools and healthcare,” said Fuller. “We work with people who do not know those services are available, or don’t have the skills to use them.”

Another key outcome was building trust with members of the community. The staff at the lab helped build a trusting relationship by teaching computer use step-by-step and troubleshooting problems. Staff often referred individuals to the center’s family advocacy services for more assistance. Providing Seattle Housing Authority youth with a safe, fun, educational place to be has been another very positive outcome. Youth now come for assistance with not only homework, but also when other challenges face them at home and at school.

For more information on the project contact Ann Fuller at annf@chs-wa.org, or call North Seattle Family Center at 206-364-7930.