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OCTO with Community Organizations Partner to Create First-of-its-kind TechHub at the Frederick Douglass Community Center

Friday, February 3, 2017
OCTO continues to be the lead DC agency in the Districts effort to bridge the digital divide

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer, District of Columbia Housing Authority, Office of State Superintendent of Education, Byte Back, and Project Reboot partner to bring technology enhancements to the newly renovated Frederick Douglass Community Center in Ward 8. The center now includes a TechHub with computer access, technology training and educational opportunities, as well as a computer repair center that provides low cost hardware options and training opportunities. 
 
“This is exactly what can happen when District agencies and their non-profit partners work closely together for a common goal – getting every resident of the District connected,” Chief Technology Officer Archana Vemulapalli said. 
 
Connect.DC – created and housed within OCTO – is the District’s primary program focused at bridging the digital divide. Connect.DC’s mission is to bridge the digital divide by making technology easier to use, more accessible, more affordable, and more relevant to the everyday lives of District residents. Implementing a comprehensive digital inclusion strategy, Connect.DC partners with a diverse group of government and community organizations – including ByteBack and Project Reboot – to further promote the city’s digital inclusion initiatives. The Connect.DC program targets Wards 5, 7, and 8 which has the lowest home broadband adoption rates in the city. 
 
Byte Back will offer a range of free technology training at the TechHub— from basic digital literacy through certification classes. This organization improves economic opportunity by providing computer training and career preparation to underserved residents. 
 
In addition, the Frederick Douglass Community Center will now feature a computer repair center to be operated by Project Reboot. Project Reboot is a nonprofit that accepts donations of computer hardware, professionally refurbishes it and makes it available for low income families throughout the Washington, DC area. This new location will allow Project Reboot to serve DC residents by providing computers, repair services, and training all at one location. Project Reboot will spend four days per week rebuilding equipment and two days per week selling their hard work. 
 
Chief Technology Officer Archana Vemulapalli continued, “Coordinating the successful move of Project Reboot to Ward 8 gives D.C. residents access to equipment they need and the opportunity to volunteer and learn how to train the next generation of computer technicians is big win.”
 
The center’s renovation was made possible through funding from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. The nearly $450,000 renovated building also features a community space, commercial kitchen, and retail space.