Deeply Digitally Divided

A popular computer clubhouse for Miami's poor is abruptly unplugged

In their effort to get the word out, the kids who participated in e-Equality's computer classes put together a 54-second video for the county commission, but they weren't allowed to show it at the designated meeting.

Other cities recognize how important it is for citizens to be computer literate. For one thing, it's imperative for a competitive workforce. In fact e-Equality's founders modeled their program on existing technology centers around the country. Houston, Seattle, and Cleveland support technology centers. As part of a contract with its cable provider, Cleveland's city council negotiated a one-time, three-million-dollar payment that goes to fund tech centers. It even has its own coalition, Cleveland Digital Vision, that helps run dozens of neighborhood computer centers. And Cleveland is not rich; it's the country's third-poorest city. "It's been pretty well accepted within the city's leadership that broad computer literacy is an important goal," says Bill Callahan, director of Cleveland Digital Vision.

e-Equality will close. The computers will be put in storage. Staffers hope the operation will only go into hibernation. Maybe Mayor Diaz and the county commission will come through. Then it will be up to MacDonald to fashion a sustainable business plan. Clearly it can't be so ambitious. After all, we're America's Poorest City. We'd better start acting like it.

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