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Bobby L. Rush Center For Community Technology Gets Boost With $1 Million Grant From SBC Foundation Rebirth Of Englewood Program To Foster Computer Skills Training, Business Development

November 21, 2003

Chicago, IL.---- November 24, 2003 - Increased access to computers and technology training became one step closer to reality for South Side residents today as the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation accepted the final payment of a $1 million grant from the SBC Foundation.

The grant will help Rebirth of Englewood CDC establish the Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology, a training program and a business resource center for local residents, located in Englewood. The announcement of the grant was made today during a ceremony attended by local community, business and political leaders.

This tech center would level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students and the unemployed so that they may one day enter the field of high technology," said U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush. "Many communities across this nation have been mostly absent from the high tech revolution. This technology center will help to remedy this problem by giving community residents a chance to become competitive.

Vincent Barnes, executive director of Rebirth of Englewood CDC, which is heading the initiative, noted that the opportunities the center will provide are abundant. By providing new career options through learned or upgraded job skills, the establishment of the center will provide a significant economic benefit to the South Side of Chicago.

"Varying projects around the nation have attempted to bridge what is commonly called the digital divide," said Barnes. For the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation, the focus of the Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology is not simply to bridge the digital divide, but also to bridge the economic divide.

Technology center jobs, business income potential and employment from technology training are projected to provide $14.2 million to the South Side economy in a two-year period, according to Barnes. The project involves acquisition of building site and establishment of seven residential and business programs designed to provide technology and economic growth for Chicagos South Side.

"We at SBC see the establishment of this technology center as important not only for the South Side but for the whole of Chicago, said Carrie Hightman, president of SBC Illinois. Skills training and convenient access to technology tools are critical for every resident and every business looking not only to survive but to thrive in todays economy."

The technology center programs for residents will include computer skills instruction, hardware installation and repair classes, employment placement and a youth program designed to develop hardware and software proficiency. The centers economic development focus will provide business technology training and serve as an incubation site for start-up businesses and a resource center for office and technology services for South Side businesses.