September 19, 2008

Catawbas Open Tech Center

The new technology center that opened this month at the Catawba Indian Nation's Longhouse was the result of a combined efforts by a variety of groups. It should be a valuable learning tool not only for tribal members but also others in the community.

The center will offer workplace computer training, a GED program and small business classes to tribal members and area residents. It includes 11 new computers and will be staffed by a licensed instructor who will teach GED courses and a work-skills technology program.

This project was the result of several benefactors joining hands to make the center a reality. First, the tribe received a $150,000 rural development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which helped pay for furniture, equipment and classroom supplies.

Businesses and community organizations also provided resources. IBM, for example, donated computers, and Tri-District/Chester Adult Education provided the instructor. SeniorNet, a national nonprofit organization for older adults, gave software.

The Catawba tech center is the fifth in the nation to be opened as part of Hope and Harmony for Humanity, a grant-based initiative to bring technology and training to American Indians in rural areas. It is hoped that these skills will be a boost for American Indians, who suffer from an unemployment rate 9 percent higher than the national average.

This should provide a great opportunity for Catawbas to learn new job skills, complete their education or just brush up on their computer skills. Congratulations to all who had a hand in bringing this service to the reservation.

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