FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. May 29, 2023.
Contact: Christine Nieves, 215-324-0746 ext. 247, email@example.com
The initiative is funded by a $2 Million award from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration
Philadelphia, PA – Esperanza College of Eastern University, one of only two Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the state of Pennsylvania, has launched the Hope Digital Skills Initiative to advance online learning in high growth and high demand industries, including early childhood education and eSports management. The initiative also includes the Hope Digital Skills Program, which consists of workshops on computer basics to bridge the digital divide in Hunting Park, the heart of Hispanic North Philadelphia.
The Hope Digital Skills Initiative is funded by a $2,031,405.13 award from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Connecting Minority Communities Grant. The award will fund the Hope Digital Literacy initiative in North Philadelphia. The Biden Administration announced the award to Eastern University on October 5th, 2022.
The resources will fund efforts to enhance neighborhood wide broadband Internet access and one-on-one services to ensure that both students and residents within Hunting Park at large are effectively connected to the internet to pursue education, professional, and health related goals. The Hope Digital Skills initiative is expected to connect 2,000 people annually to digital tools and reach up to 50,000 with vital information.
“This award will bring vitally needed resources to North Philadelphia, expanding Esperanza’s long standing work to build a physical ‘opportunity community’ – a place marked by quality schools, thriving businesses, a vibrant arts sector, and more – into a digital opportunity community,” said Dean Marilyn Marsh of Esperanza College. “Our college is a beacon of hope.”
“Eastern University is honored to receive this selective award and excited about the meaningful work that it will enable,” shared Eastern University President Ron Matthews. “Esperanza’s Hope Digital Literacy project will empower underserved populations in Philadelphia, providing significant access opportunities and facilitating important educational and vocational goals.”
Founded as a partnership of multi-services non-profit Esperanza and Eastern University in 2000, Esperanza College has produced nearly 1,000 graduates – future leaders and agents of change. Supported by Esperanza’s local organizing teams and programs, Esperanza College will provide digital skills to the students and families that need them most.
“The changing economic and workforce landscape requires that individuals and families be connected to broadband and digital skillsets, moving past cell phones to open up new opportunities,” remarked Esperanza CEO Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr. “Our commitment has always been to empower our Hispanic community and others to access economic mobility – and to have the very best tools and education to control their own destinies. This award moves us forward.”
Esperanza College will be joined by consortium partners including Comcast NBC Universal, which has made investments into Esperanza’s Hunting Park neighborhood as part of its own commitment to advancing digital equity, broadband adoption, and empowering digital innovators for an increasingly diverse workforce.
Esperanza is a national community-based social benefit organization founded in 1986 by The Reverend Luis Cortés Jr. and the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity to serve and advocate for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), with a mission to strengthen Hispanic communities. Beginning with a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the unmet needs of North Philadelphia’s Hispanic community, Rev. Cortés is now sought by national and international leaders alike on issues of economic and workforce development, housing, immigration, and education. Under his leadership, Esperanza has grown from a small operation to a $70 million operation. Visit www.esperanza.us or follow us on social media @esperanza_us on Twitter and Instagram, EsperanzaUSA on Facebook and Esperanza US on YouTube.
Eastern University, founded in 1925, is a nationally-recognized, private Christian institution enrolling approximately 5,400 students in its undergraduate, graduate, and seminary programs. The University’s primary campus is in St. Davids, PA, with additional campuses in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and online. Eastern has been ranked one of the Best Regional Universities in the North by the U.S. News and World Report for 2022-2023, and is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP). Eastern houses seven academic colleges and more than 130 programs that prepare graduates to impact the world through the University’s core values of faith, reason, and justice. Through dynamic programs, a vibrant campus community, and meaningful service-learning opportunities, Eastern University is committed to providing students with transformative, accessible, and affordable education.