Hacienda CDC Opens Three Free Portland-Area Learning and Innovation Centers for Youth and Adults
Learning and innovation hubs designed for all ages
12/21/2022, 12:22 p.m.
PORTLAND, Ore., December 1, 2022 — Adults and youth in North, Northeast and Southeast Portland experienced new and vital connections to cutting-edge technology, STEM education, and career development opportunities with three community-driven learning centers opening.
The new centers were created by Verizon in partnership with Hacienda CDC to remove barriers between low-income Portlanders and the tech resources they need to succeed in a digital world. These learning and innovation hubs are designed for all ages, with high-speed internet access, advanced technology, and educational and career programming.
Hacienda CDC and Verizon were joined by Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio and guests at the grand opening celebration held at the Verizon Community Forward New Columbia Learning Center on the New Columbia campus of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center & Rosemary Anderson High School (POIC & RAHS).
"So many families across the nation long for access to the technology and resources they need to be successful in today’s digital world,” says Rudy Reyes, West Region Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at Verizon. “On behalf of Verizon, we are excited to partner with Hacienda and Portland leaders to enable youth and adults to develop the skills, knowledge and capabilities for a more promising future."
Hacienda CDC — In partnership with Verizon, was selected to support the development of three learning centers in Portland. Open to students, community members and the public, the centers are located in remodeled spaces at Hacienda’s headquarters in Cully, Portland Community College’s Southeast Campus, in addition to the New Columbia campus.
“More than 60% of the families Hacienda serves in its affordable housing and programs access the internet only through their smartphones. That’s a huge barrier when you’re trying to participate in school, fill out a job application, or manage your business only through your phone,” said Ernesto Fonseca, CEO, Hacienda CDC. “Latinos, who are a large portion of families served by Hacienda, are among the communities who are under-resourced when it comes to technology. They make up only 8% of STEM workers despite being 18.5% of the U.S. population.”
Known for developing affordable housing throughout metro Portland, Hacienda takes a holistic approach to building communities that goes beyond housing. The new Verizon Community Forward Learning Centers exemplify how Hacienda’s programs and pathways remove barriers to education, careers, and wealth building for low-income families — especially for Latinos and communities of color who historically have been shut out of opportunities.
"I’m committed to closing the digital divide — especially in underserved communities where we see access to technology and tech education is much lower than other communities,” said Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio,” I commend Hacienda for its commitment to ensuring that all Portlanders — especially BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and low-income communities and those living with disabilities — have access to government, and a voice in determining their own lives."
The COVID pandemic has only magnified the barriers that low-income households face — like not having internet at home or laptops, desktops and tablets — which unfairly limit their opportunities to succeed at school and at work.
The Verizon Community Forward Learning Centers are helping Hacienda remove those barriers with advanced tech including laptops, tablets, desktops, 3D printers, audio/video recording tools, and more. These resources are coupled with programming offered through partners like Oregon State University, Free Geek and Day One Tech that will help community members use the space and launch opportunities — whether that’s learning to use a computer, developing critical STEM skills and connections to secondary education, or launching a new career or small business.
Schools and community groups who want to use the learning centers can stay tuned to future learning center events at haciendacdc.org/events. For more information on each learning center, visit https://haciendacdc.org/community.