The Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County will receive $1.1 million in federal stimulus funds to teach basic computer skills to residents in several low-income Lexington neighborhoods and help them buy computers.
"There are very few things in this day and age economically more important than the ability to access and navigate the Internet," U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, said at a news conference announcing the grant.
"If you're not able to have access to that asset, you're not able to compete in the economy in the direction where it's going," he said.
With the two-year grant, the Urban League will hire a corps of underemployed people and train them to work with residents in 1,700 households, helping them to develop computer skills, said P.G. Peeples, Urban League president and chief executive.
Primary neighborhoods to be served will be the East End, Georgetown Street and Cardinal Valley. Money is expected to become available in May to launch the program, Peeples said.
Lexington is one of seven cities, including Detroit and Akron and Cleveland, Ohio, to receive funding through a broadband technology opportunity program.
Under the grant, the Urban League will lead a local project, called Connect Your Community, to give low-income residents computer training.
Teamed with the League in Connect Your Community are the Community Action Council, the University of Kentucky, Fayette County Public Schools and the Blue Grass Community Foundation.
The city's recently announced expansion of its wireless network in large sections of downtown to enhance public safety will work in partnership with Connect Your Community, Mayor Jim Newberry said.
Part of that effort will be to expand broadband access in the East End and Cardinal Valley.