$7.1 million Recovery Act Grant awarded to Bay Area’s California Emerging Technology Fund

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WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) today announced the award of a major federal technology grant that will provide critical technology training to unemployed workers in California seeking new careers.

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), which partners with The Stride Center in San Pablo, has been awarded a $7.1 million grant funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The grant was awarded to through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and will allow CETF and its partners to offer outreach, training and services to help unemployed residents to gain IT-industry jobs.

“This grant couldn’t come at a more important time and will be a huge boost to efforts to prepare our workers for the technologically advanced workplaces they face,” said Miller, a long-time supporter of CETF’s efforts. “Helping them gain new skills will strengthen our efforts to end the recession and grow the economy. This grant is another good example of how the Recovery Act is effectively investing in our communities to create jobs and prepare for the future.”

Sunne Wright McPeak, President and CEO of CETF, said her organization was ready to put this grant to immediate use. “CETF is honored to become a major partner with NTIA and the federal government in closing the Digital Divide in California, key to bringing 21st Century opportunities to all Americans,” she said. “It is helpful since the number of ‘unconnected’ Californians on the other side of the Digital Divide is equivalent to having 5 other states inside of our state, for example, the population of Illinois is the same size of the as the unconnected residents in California. Furthermore, the Digital Divide is another manifestation of the Economic and Opportunity Divides, leaving the ‘have not’s in society farther behind and further disadvantaged.”

According to McPeak, the partners in the grant will offer low-income youth and adults interested in learning new job skills using technology the training, certification, and placement assistance needed to start not just a job, but a career.

The project proposes to place unemployed residents in IT-industry jobs by providing outreach, training, and services to at-risk youth, English as a Second Language individuals, public housing residents, the homeless, and people with disabilities. Qualified low-income persons will be able to earn laptop and desktop computers by graduating from a broadband training curriculum designed to create community broadband adoption ambassadors.

CETF is a non-profit corporation established pursuant to California Public Utilities Commission requirements in approving several large telecommunications mergers. The organization’s mission is to provide leadership statewide to close the digital divide by accelerating the deployment and adoption of broadband to unserved and underserved communities and populations, while ensuring that California is a global leader in the availability and use of broadband technology.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law in February 2009 to create jobs and invest in future economic recovery. A recent report by economist Mark Zandi, who advised Sen. John McCain, indicated that the Recovery Act and other recent economic policies helped prevent a second Great Depression. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Recovery Act is responsible for 3.3 million jobs in the economy.

Click for additional information about the grant award is attached.

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