PLATTSBURGH — Time is running out to find a source of funding the Community Computer and Employment Resource Center at Plattsburgh Public Library.
“Our current funding ends in September 2012,” said North Country Workforce Investment Board Director of Special Programs Michele Armani.
The center, which opened in October 2010, provides assistance to the unemployed, under-employed, seniors and people with disabilities in development of workplace skills.
The approximately $212,000 of funding for the first two years came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by way of its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, Armani said, and was a one-time grant.
With the full funding package, the New York State Department of Education Division of Libraries helped create 33 such centers throughout New York.
The funds allowed the Resource Center to acquire the equipment it needed and the infrastructure to provide Internet capability. The center features 12 high-speed broadband computers, as well as color printers.
It also covered the salaries of workforce advisers and creation of a digital literacy workshop.
LOOKING FOR FUNDING
Armani said their energies are focused on finding funds from a public/private partnership. They are seeking a grant from the American Honda Foundation, which awards money to programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) aimed at youths.
Workforce Adviser Katie Duffy said one of their goals has been to bring more youths to the center, so that would be a good fit.
They are also working on grant applications with Cornell Cooperative Extension and creation of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics center in Plattsburgh with Clarkson University in Potsdam, Armani said.
That money would allow for technical instruction, curriculum development, learning labs and even make it possible for the center to partner with local science fairs.
”We are working hard to build the partnerships to seek grants,” Armani said.
She estimated it would take about $100,000 a year to keep the current staff and continue to operate the center, including the numerous free workshops that take place daily.
”It’s important to keep our two advisers. They are highly trained and continue to develop many new workshops,” she said.
Duffy said that level of funding would also allow them to continue to offer the Universal Class program, which lets people choose from among more than 500 online courses.
Armani said they expect to have served more than 6,000 people by the end of July. Those numbers show the services offered are valued by the community, she said.
That figure grows to more than 7,000 if the people who have participated in workshops are taken into account.
“We are working hard to keep those core services intact,” Armani said.
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