City awarded $7.9M to improve technology

As part of a nationwide effort to boost the use of broadband services, Mayor Gavin Newsom and the U.S. Department of Commerce on Tuesday announced a $7.9 million stimulus grant to improve San Franciscans' access to technology.

The local project, known as the San Francisco Community Broadband Opportunity Program, will help pay for training, computers and broadband connections throughout the city, according the mayor's office.

“San Francisco is at the center of the information and communications revolution that is changing the world, but too many people still don't have access to broadband technology,” Newsom said in a statement.

Fewer than 42 percent of the city's seniors and only 41 percent of its low-income residents subscribe to broadband services, according to the mayor's office.

Partnering organizations include senior centers, adult day and supportive housing sites, after-school programs, youth organizations, digital media partners and City College of San Francisco.

“Senior centers have been flooded with requests for this kind of program, and this grant will help us offer them what they so badly need,” said Anne Hinton, director of the city's department of Aging and Adult Services.

Key project components include neighborhood-based broadband training for seniors and adults with disabilities; digital media training for economically disadvantaged youth and adults; and tutorials in how to create online businesses from home.

The program, expected to create nearly 200 jobs, will offer training to about 8,000 residents.

The commerce department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration awarded the grant, which is part of $4.7 billion provided to the administration through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 to support broadband infrastructure projects.

The Bay Area previously received a $50.6 million grant for the Bay Area Wireless Enhanced Broadband Project, which will provide Bay Area emergency responders with a dedicated and prioritized broadband communications system.

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