Classes will teach local adults how to use technology





Each class will last include sessions, offered throughout one month, at Mattie Rhodes Center





“The whole premise of this program is to ease families into the understanding of technology,” said Mike Macias.



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE
A technology program designed to bridge the digital divide is coming to Kansas City. Officials with the LULAC National Education Service Centers Inc. (LNESC), a Latino organization dedicated to educational programming, have announced that it will begin hosting the PUENTES program later this month. PUENTES stands for ‘Pathways to Uplift and Empower through Novel Technology and Education Services.’

The program, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation, seeks to educate Latino families from disadvantaged households who also are non-English speaking or are English language learners about the basics of using technology for everyday purposes. Though aimed at adults, the program allows the children of these parents or guardians to attend the digital literacy classes as well so they can learn about technology use together.

Each class in the program lasts for a month, with the successful student having completed all 12 hours of the class within a month’s time. The first class will be offered beginning Jan. 22, according to Mike Macias, LULAC’s executive director.

“A lot of times, our families only know what their cell phones can do they don’t know all the capabilities of a laptop,” explains Macias, who developed the curriculum being used in similar classes in California and Texas. “The whole premise of this program is to ease families into the understanding of technology … because the parent needs to know they can use technology to check on their students’ grades or use it for their own personal use.”

The classes will be offered in multiple languages, with a translator present to help interpret instruction and to pose the students’ questions and comments to the course instructor. The classes will be convenient to attend for those in the Northeast neighborhood, they will take place at the Mattie Rhodes Center. All students will work on laptops provided by the program.

And if the benefit of a greater understanding of technology isn’t reason enough to enroll in the program’s class, Macias says there are other incentives, too.

“Upon completion of the program, they will get a $100 gift card, and if they make it to at least three of the four sessions (offered in one month), they will take home some nonperishables,” Macias says.

There’s more: At the conclusion of session, each student who has successfully completed the class will have his or her name put into a drawing for a free Chromebook.

Space is limited in each class offered, however, with each class only having room for 10 students. Macias says the class will be offered six times, so that means a total of 60 individuals may enroll.

For more information or to enroll in time for the Jan. 22 class, call (816) 581-5683. To learn more about LNESC, visit www.lnesc.org.