EDITOR’S NOTE: Tonight the city’s Technology Matching Fund celebrates its 20th anniversary with a 5:30 pm gathering at El Centro de la Raza (2524 16th Ave. S.). While the party’s not in West Seattle, the latest round of recipients included two local nonprofits – and this story takes a closer look at what the money means for one of them.
(City of Seattle photo from gathering of matching-fund grant recipients)
By Marika Lee
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
For some, tasks such as uploading a resume or printing important documents seem simple. But not when everything is in an unfamiliar language and computers are not yet an everyday part of your life.
“A lot of things get lost in translation and having someone who speaks your language when you are trying to navigate a new email account, for example, is much easier,” said Ahmed Rodol of the East African West Seattleites he helps.
Rodol is the development director for South Delridge-headquartered Education for All, one of the most-recent grantees for the city’s Technology Matching Fund.
“(Education for All) was intended to be a bridge between immigrants that are here and the resources that are available. Also, to help them compete in the work environment and help them be confident enough to seek the American dream and be self-sufficient,” Rodol said.
Delia Burke, community manager for the Technology Matching Fund, said the fund looks for programs with a long-term commitment to achieving digital equity and literacy.
“We look for programs that are addressing the gap. We know that 15,000 of Seattle’s residents are not connected and many of those are East African residents,” Burke said.
Education for All received $15,000 from the Technology Matching Fund to create a computer lab at its location on 18th Avenue SW.
It shares the property with Hope Academy of Seattle, a private school that also serves the East African community.
“There are computer labs and there are community centers but there are not immigrant-run community centers or hubs where people feel comfortable enough to ask questions,” Rodol said.
When we visited, about 20 children were watching a documentary inside the room that will become the computer lab (which we photographed afterward). Small groups were chatting near the main office and outside in the courtyard. Children popped in and out of the office, collecting backpacks as they went.
“We are the only East African community-driven nonprofit in West Seattle,” Rodol said.
Burke said despite Seattle’s “high-tech community” feel, some people are being left out.
“Our program helps people gain access. Technology is such a key component of doing things in life today,” she said.
Rodol said Education for All’s goal for the computer lab and the programs it can offer once it is created is to improve the learning process for the community.
“It makes the learning process smoother and it makes accessibility for our members smoother as well,” Rodol said.
The Technology Matching Fund’s recent grantees also included the Senior Center of West Seattle. Find out more about the program, funded primarily by the city’s cable-franchise fees, by going here.