February 4, 2010 in Washington Voices

Grant revs up computers

Center’s lab attracts students, novices alike
By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

Linda Vielle, left, works on typing skills, and Harriet Iness searches the Web at a technology lab at the American Indian Community Center in Spokane on Jan. 22.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location


For lab hours and other services at the American Indian Community Center, 801 E. Second Ave., call (509) 535-3430.

The American Indian Community Center received a $232,000 grant through the Federal Administration for Native Americans, and now 10 brand-new work stations are humming in a small computer lab toward the back of the building on Second Avenue.

“We asked for 14 work stations, and we got 10,” said Lux Devereaux, program manager for the center. “We also got funding for a technician and for one administrative position.”

The computer lab is open to anyone – Native American or not – who wants to use a computer or become more tech savvy. “It’s been open for about three months, and anyone can come here and use the computers,” Devereaux said.

For now, the lab has 159 registered users and 20 students who are taking various classes.

Devereaux explained that the basic computer skills classes are much like kindergarten.

“We really start with how to turn on the computer, and we also teach about e-mail and the Internet,” Devereaux said.

Years ago, the American Indian Community Center had a small computer lab where students could do homework and research, but this new Community Technology Center is much better.

“There is a great need for this,” Devereaux said. “There are probably 120 tribes represented in Spokane, and about 12,000 urban Indians. If you aren’t a student you are not connected to any programs that can teach you how to use a computer.”

Often, Devereaux added, people aren’t comfortable at other community computer labs, like the ones at local libraries, if they lack the most basic computer skills.

“They just don’t have access like they can have it here,” he said.

Part of the grant will fund workshops that will teach users how to write job applications.

“We may be able to have another workshop for people who want to finish their GED,” Devereaux said.

The center plans to notify groups that help people switch careers or gain new job skills, such as WorkSource, about the availability of the center’s computers.

“Today we see between 18 and 20 students a day,” Devereaux said. “Hopefully, as we get going, we’ll have night classes too, for people who work during the day.”

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