What is a Public Computing Center?
Public computing centers are computer labs that are open to the public free of charge. There are many public computing centers located throughout Philadelphia that are open during various times. In addition to offering free access to computers, many public computing centers also offer additional services such as digital literacy classes. Digital literacy classes help individuals improve their computer and digital skills.
Learning New Skills
Robert Quarles of West Philadelphia is one of many adult learners taking part in classes with the Center for Digital Inclusion and Technology (CDIT). The Center was created in 2003 by the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) to help West Philadelphians bridge the digital divide. “Right now, I am learning to access the computer to get online, use the internet to find things, and be aware of things around the world.”
Although its computer lab is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19, the Center is still offering online digital literacy classes and lends laptops to individuals interested in participating in these classes. Robert, 76, voices gratitude for the patience and knowledge of his instructor, Curri Stewart. “He is teaching me the language that IT people use. I am very fortunate to be able to understand what is going on and everything to fit into society because society is moving at a quick rate. I am thankful that his patience has helped me to catch up to society.”
Robert is not alone in voicing appreciation. Another student, Swee Lin of Center City also speaks of the importance of learning new skills to keep up with technology. “I feel very happy and very lucky that I have joined the computer class. The classes are getting more and more interesting for me. Learning computers is important (because) it can improve your computer skills–because now is the computer world. So proud of myself that I also have a chance to learn computer skills and technology skills.”
Swee Lin also praised her instructor, Curri Stewart. “He is a pro and capable teacher. He is hard working, patient, helpful, responsible, and funny. I have learned a lot of things from him, (such as) how to use the computer to access the browser and search. That helps to improve my knowledge and upgrade myself.”
Digital literacy classes like those offered by CDIT are just as rewarding for the instructors, including instructor Curri Stewart. “Everyone who participates in our classes finds themselves less afraid of the computer. The fear they once had is replaced with knowledge and ability that they later turn into a set of skills. For me, I simply enjoy it when I’m asked questions. I get questions of all kinds on computing topics they now have hope to get insight on. As the student’s curiosity in computers grows, and their knowledge base increases, I like to help them along to find their way.”
Philadelphia’s 5-Year Digital Equity Plan
Digital Equity has become more important than ever. The City is sharing its 5-year plan that works toward digital access for all residents. Learn more here.
Finding a Public Computer Center Near You
Are you interested in improving your digital skills? Or are you looking for an open access computer lab? Check out the list below for Public Computing Centers in Philadelphia – some of which offer digital skills classes!
Associación Puertorriqueños en Marcha located at 1900 N 9th St (Open Monday-Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm)
Athletic Recreation Center located at Athletic Square Park, 1400 N 26th St
Cecil B Moore Recreation Center located at 2551 N 22nd St
Community Computer Lab – Located inside the Charles Library at Temple University, 1900 N. 13th Street (Registration Required)
Francisville Recreation Center located at 1737 Francis St
North 10, Philadelphia located at 3890 N 10th St
Project Home located at 1936 N Judson St (Open Tuesday and Thursdays from 10am-3pm)
Center in the Park located at 5818 Germantown Ave (Pre-registration required)
Happy Hollow Recreation Center located at 4800 Wayne Ave
Mallery Playground located at 100 E Johnson St
Roosevelt Playground located at 6455 Walker St
The Center For Digital Inclusion and Technology at PEC located at 3939 Warren Street, 2nd Floor (Computer lab currently closed but they offer refurbished laptops for participants in their digital skills classes – Register at https://linktr.ee/cditpec)
Drexel University’s Beachell Family Learning Center located at 3509 Spring Garden Street
VICA Technologies located at 4153 Lancaster Avenue
African Cultural Alliance of North America located at 5530 Chester Avenue
Christy Recreation Center located at 728 S 55th Street
Coalition of African Communities (AFRICOM) located at 6328 Paschallville Avenue, Suite B
Kingsessing Recreation Center located at 4901 Kingsessing Ave.
Public Computing Center in West Philadelphia Is a Model for Digital Equity and Literacy | Office of Adult Education – City of Philadelphia (.gov)
What is a Public Computing Center?