Technicity Times
    Issue 2• February 2003

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A Great Day for the San Fernando Valley

Grand Opening of Pacoima Community Technology Center
"We're Wall To Wall People at the Moment"

By Stan Saunders

A stone dropped in the water creates ripples that have effects far from the source.

That was the theme of the grand opening of the Pacoima Community Technology Center in Los Angeles, CA on Thursday, January 16. Los Angeles City Council President Alex Padilla, a driving force for the project, noted the importance of a technology center in an impoverished region. "It gives adults and parents the skills they need to apply for good jobs, while children will be armed with the knowledge they need to excel in school and attend college. It's a great day for Pacoima, a great day for the San Fernando Valley."

The Center brings technology, education and workforce training resources free of charge to the community that sees more than 29% of its population living below the poverty line. It also houses the Valley Family Technology Project (VFTP), a $3 million technology and workforce development partnership among corporate and government supporters. For Dixon Slingerland, the director of Youth Policy Institute (YPI), a non-profit organization that is the lead agency for VFTP and the Community Technology Center, the opening was the fulfillment of a long term goal. "We hope to level the playing field for the residents of Pacoima. Looking around at all the excited faces at this opening really makes the importance of this project to the community hit home."

The technology center provides training for higher paying jobs in a wide range of fields, notably medical office careers. Participants also learn business English and math, Windows XP and Microsoft Office applications. For adult learners, the Pacoima Online Academy provides distance learning courses through a partnership with Cerritos College. Elementary, middle and high school students can take advantage of the youth services program, which offers academic tutoring as well as a chance to learn multimedia software, such as PhotoShop and InDesign. Experienced students take full responsibility for the community website, www.pacoima.net.

The center started serving community residents earlier this month, and has classes filled to capacity. "We're wall to wall people at the moment," VFTP Director Mario Matute said. The facilities include a state of the art computer lab with Pentium IV Dell computers, a wireless laptop center with more than two dozen Dell Inspiron 4150 notebook computers, and an interactive white board at the front.

The effects are already being felt. Three of the ripples created by the program were present at the opening. Leydra Carrillo, Bertha Quintanilla, and Bertha Melena are members of the first graduating class of the Medical Office Careers program. "We're here to support the Valley Family Technology Project and the people who work there, because they supported us when we needed education and training," Carillo said. "They've really helped the community."



Stan Saunders is Director of Development for Youth Policy Institute, stansaunders@yahoo.com

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