Technology Center for the Thomas H. Slater Center
The Thomas H. Slater Center, a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, is a community center, founded in 1979, that provides a wide range of educational and social service programs to residents of the Winbrook Public Housing complex in White Plains, NY, and surrounding underserved neighborhoods. The proposed project will enable the Slater Center to equip a classroom with new technology to enhance program offerings and provide computer access to children and adults lacking computers and wifi access at home. Over the years, Rotary Club of White Plains has partnered with the Slater Center on many programs and supported it with financial donations, food drives, and more.
The Slater Center offers a wide variety of programs for all ages in a safe, inviting atmosphere in its 13,000 square foot building with three floors of program space. It reaches over 3,000 people annually through after school programs, a Head Start early learning program, a Haitian Resource Center, a Summer Youth Employment Program, a College and Career Program, a food pantry, and many programs to support seniors from the neighborhoods it serves.
Seventy-five percent of Slater Center's clients live in public housing or multi-family homes in the area. They are low- to moderate-income; many single parent households; and majority African-American, Hispanic, and Haitian. Many families and seniors lack adequate technology resources at home or have no access at all. The pandemic exposed how reliant on technology all community members are in the 21st century and the inequity resulting from economic status.
As a result of limited financial resources, the Slater Center has not been able to upgrade its computer technology in many years, so the programs currently offered do not have a technology component. The Center operates on a tight budget funded by grants from the City of White Plains supplemented by private fundraising.
The Rotary Club of White Plains is therefore requesting a Rotary District 7230 matching grant with a total project budget of $5,000, to purchase six (6) computers and a printer for a classroom in the Slater Center. The computers would each include a desktop computer, monitor, wired mouse and keyboard, webcam, and Microsoft office suite. (The budget was developed based on current pricing of components at Best Buy. It's possible we can take advantage of better deals as we approach the holiday season.)
Access to technology for the individuals served by the Slater Center is vital to their educational needs, college access, employment services, and tasks of everyday living/social services/recreation. The technology center would serve an estimated 500 people each year. Following are details of how the computers would be used:
(1) Educational Supports:
--Head Start Program: Online learning for early literacy. Serves 18 children daily, ages 3-5 years old, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., during the school year.
--After-School Program: Homework completion, online tutorials, research. Serves 40 children daily, in grades K-5, Monday-Friday, 3 p.m. - 6 p.m., during the school year.
--Teen Programs: Homework completion, online tutorials, research. Serves 40 teens weekly, two days per week, early evenings.
(2) College Access and Employment Services:
--Summer Youth Employment Services: Resume completion, job research and applications, supportive programs such as financial literacy workshops. Serves 30 high school students for six weeks each summer.
--College & Careers Program: Resume completion, job research and applications, college research and applications, virtual college tours, virtual college interviews. Serves 50 young adults per year (primarily high school and college age).
--Haitian Resource Center-this program serves about 100 families in the underserved Haitian population in White Plains. Adults in this program would use the computers for employment opportunities (as well as educational support and basic computer access).
(3) Tasks of Everyday Living/Social Services/Recreation:
--Senior Services: learning basic computer skills, emailing, filing out financial, insurance, and other vital forms, accessing healthcare, medical test results and other medical records, making online appointments; attending Zoom workshops that inform or entertain. Serves 60 low-income seniors twice a week from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. throughout the year, plus many others on a drop-in basis.
--The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Library: housed within the Slater Center, offers a lending library and outreach programs to community groups of all ages. Computers would be incorporated into specific programs addressing skills or topics. For example, coaching single mothers in the Coachman Family Center (homeless shelter) on how to help their children with schoolwork.
Computer installation, teaching, and maintenance:
--Each program is led by staff familiar with technology and able to lead and teach; in some cases program staff will reach out to knowledgeable volunteers to assist or teach a particular class.
--Slater Center's budget will cover the internet connection to the new computers and also covers a tech support contract that can assist with installation and maintenance of the new computers.
--Three White Plains Rotarians serve on the Slater Center Board of Directors. The Slater Center's Executive Director is a White Plains Rotarian. All four are long-standing members and past Presidents.
--Rotary Club of White Plains planned and presented a Financial Literacy Workshop in the Summer of 2021 for teens in the Slater Center's Youth Employment Service who were starting paid internships in the community. Each intern was provided with a bank account and direct deposit for their wages. The workshop White Plains Rotarians taught included targeted information about, among other things, banking, saving, budgeting, and the importance of maintaining good credit. White Plains Rotarians on its Social Justice Committee are adapting this program to incorporate online tools on the new computers and will offer it to teens and adults at the Slater Center in 2022.
--Rotary Club of White Plains will hold a special spring event for our members at the Slater Center, to include a tour of Slater building, including new the technology center, a meeting with program directors, and snacks/lunch (if Covid conditions allow meals in the building).
--We will develop volunteer opportunities for Rotarians to work one-on-one with seniors to familiarize them with the new computers.
Timeline for the project:
--If this grant is approved, White Plains Rotarians will collaborate with Slater Center staff to decide which exact models of the components to purchase, and from which vendor(s). We would likely make the purchases in late November and install the equipment in December. The computers should then be ready for use in the various programs outlined above.
--The Slater Center tour for Rotary Members will be scheduled for late winter or early spring 2022.
--Rotarian volunteers assisting seniors on the computers could start as early as winter 2022, depending on Covid conditions.