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IVCC expands computer access, training in Streator

Illinois Valley Community College has partnered with the Streator Community Center to provide free public access to technology and computer training.

In July 2012, IVCC was awarded a $16,000 “Eliminate the Digital Divide” grant to increase access to computers and offer training for underserved communities.  The overall goal for IVCC & Streator area partners is to expand access to computers and telecommunication technology to residents that otherwise would not have access on their own.

“As technology becomes a larger part of being able to contribute to Illinois’ economy, populations lacking access to computers and technology are at a disadvantage in the labor market and in life,” said Jamie Gahm, IVCC director of continuing education and business services.

Last fall, IVCC donated and installed a computer lab equipped with nine computers, printer, wireless access, etc.  IVCC intern Elizabeth Smith staffs the Community Center lab at 202 S. Vermilion St. 12 hours a week.

“This has been such a good collaboration with IVCC,” said Jenny Malnar, Streator Community Center director. “There is definitely a need in our area for computer access and training; the people who come in are very appreciative of the opportunity.”

The lab is equipped with Microsoft Office software and basic keyboarding tutorials.  Smith will also assist students with online job searches and applications, guidance with using email and online searches, said Gahm.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity funded project will offer classes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Computer Basics, March 4 and 7, Welcome to Internet and Email, March 11 and 14, and Microsoft Word, March 18 and 21.

The same, six-hour, two-session classes will be offered in April and May; students can sign up for one, two or all three.

By the end of the basic computer class, students will be able to identify parts of a computer, start any installed Windows program, browse files and much more.

In the internet-email course, students will learn how to search for jobs online, complete online applications, make online purchases and receive and send email.

In Microsoft Word, students will create, edit and format documents and learn the basics of cutting, copying and pasting text and be introduced to Word’s spelling and grammar tools.

The final portion of the grant will ensure the lab remains open after IVCC’s commitment ends June 30.   After June 30, the Streator Community Center will take over ownership of the lab.

“We hope to train three-to-four volunteers to provide technology training and support to the Streator community,” said Gahm. “The goal is to have the Center continue to offer computer training and access at no-cost or limited cost to individuals who need it.”

For information or to volunteer, contact Gahm at (815) 224-0428 or jamie_gahm@ivcc.edu or program manager Gail Divan at (815) 224-0280 or gail_divan@ivcc.edu.

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