Atlanta opening connected learning center to fight digital divide

The mounted sign of the Andrew and Walter Family At-Promise Center located at 2220 Cambellton Road in southwest Atlanta. (City of Atlanta)

Credit: City of Atlanta

Credit: City of Atlanta

The mounted sign of the Andrew and Walter Family At-Promise Center located at 2220 Cambellton Road in southwest Atlanta. (City of Atlanta)

Atlanta’s at-risk youth will now have expanded access to free internet and computers at one of the city’s At-Promise Centers.

The AT&T Connected Learning Center features 25 desktop computers with resources for learning, literacy, mentoring and tutoring. It is located behind the Truist Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA at 2220 Cambellton Road in southwest Atlanta.

AT&T Southeast President Venessa Harrison said AT&T is partnering with the Atlanta Police Foundation to open two more technology centers at the city’s At-Promise Centers. Officials said Tuesday that the tech spaces will help close the digital divide, which is the lack of internet access in underserved communities.

“When I said I want to make sure that we eliminate the digital divide in the city of Atlanta, one of the first people I came to was Vanessa and I said this means telecommunications companies and technology companies have to support this effort,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

Atlanta’s three at-promise centers focus on youth education, professional development, mental health, and recreation. The centers are designed to give young people positive interactions with police officers.

Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, nearly a dozen young people filled the room for the first time.

Atlanta Police Foundation President & CEO Dave Wilkinson called the centers a safe haven for the city’s youth to use in preparation for job training. The Campellton Road center opened in December, and this month, Coca-Cola Company CEO James Quincey said his company is giving $1 million to the city to help build a fourth center in southeast Atlanta.

During the mayor’s state of the city speech last week, Dickens said the city wants to do more to support its youth, starting with investments of millions of dollars into early childhood learning and other programs for the youth.

Additionally, Dickens promised to launch the “Mayor’s Internship Program” this year to give children an opportunity to see their government up close. He also urged companies to help the city to put 3,000 teens to work through Atlanta’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

“For our youth to be successful in the 21st century, you know they need us,” said City Councilmember Marci Collier Overstreet, who represents the area.

“They must have access to technology and connectivity. It’s a must. We can’t do well without it anymore.”