Pixley Connect Graduates
Maybe the last time
On Thursday May 27, 2010 at 6:00 PM the seventh, and quite possibly, the final group of adult students graduated from the Pixley Connect Program. It all started in January of 2007 when AT&T had donated $600,000 to update the Central Office in Pixley allowing the residents to access the internet with DSL lines so they could enter the 21st century; to train the parents of 6th grade students in the Pixley community, and to reward the families with free computers after successful completion of the program. The program evolved over the years due to monetary constraints but it has successfully taught adults on the use of computers. Many of these adults had never touched a computer. With successful completion of the program, though not experts, they have lost their fear of computers and could use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel along with obtaining an email account and using the internet. Now with money sources running very low, it doesn’t look like there will be another class.
The class is very fast paced and is given in Spanish and English concurrently. The program is 18 weeks, 72+ hours of classroom instruction and computer use. It starts with how a computer is turned on and off to basic usage of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint; use of the internet and the students open an email address. Also, computer maintenance is covered briefly. The students leave the class with the confidence of being able to use the computer and the ability to learn more.
There have been 156 graduates over the years with 30 reporting better jobs due to what they learned and the increased confidence according to Maria Velaquez, the current Coordinator for Pixley Connect. Tentatively, she will be leaving Pixley after June 30th to continue similar programs in other parts of California. Maria works for the Modesto based non-profit, Great Valley Center that runs the Pixley Connect Project.
This Project was funded to assist small communities such as Pixley with low median household income, and low education levels to help bridge the divide of computer and internet access compared with larger communities.
2000 census figures show 42% of Pixley families at or below the poverty line. Median household income in 2000 was $23,304 (currently estimated at $30,939 compared with $61,021 for California). Estimated per capita income is $10,901.
Pixley Connect has been possible over the years with assistance from AT&T, Great Valley Center/ Pixley Connect, Tulare Adult School, 1 Economy, and California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley.