Spanish Language Outreach Program Expansion Press Release
For Immediate Release
WebJunction awarded Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to extend Spanish Language Outreach Program to all 50 states
Program designed to increase knowledge, skills of public library staff to better serve technology needs of Spanish speakers
DUBLIN, Ohio, October 12, 2005—WebJunction, the online community where library staff meet to share ideas, solve problems and do online coursework, has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will extend a Spanish Language Outreach Program designed to provide public library staff with skills and resources to reach out to Spanish speakers in their local communities and increase the number of Spanish speakers using public access computers in libraries across the United States.
The three-year, $2 million grant follows a successful 18-month pilot program in New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois and Florida , which was also funded by the Gates Foundation. The pilot program created a training curriculum, conducted 37 workshops, and trained 482 library staff members The program will use the new funding to replicate the training program nationwide in partnership with state libraries.
“As Spanish-speaking populations grow throughout the United States , providing opportunities for these communities to gain access to and successfully navigate public access computing will be essential to closing our nation’s digital divide,” said Kara Palmer, advocacy officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Libraries participating in the program’s regional workshops also will share their experiences and resources through the online community at WebJunction. Using this interactive environment, WebJunction is building a collection of best practices, case studies and resources to facilitate similar outreach to any library in the country. By developing a community of interest around serving the needs of Spanish speakers, the grant will also help achieve WebJunction’s mission: to create a comprehensive nationwide online resource for training, materials, and library staff interaction.
“It is clear that the pilot workshops and trainers have made a difference in their respective states,” said Marilyn Gell Mason, Executive Director, WebJunction. “The next step is to scale the pilot model to meet the needs of the 46 remaining states. We look forward to improving the program by applying the valuable lessons learned in the pilot to the next round of states and continually evaluating and enhancing the program over the next three years.”
“We are very grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for having funded the pilot, and we will build on the success of the pilot to validate the Foundation’s confidence expressed in funding the next phase of the Spanish Language Outreach Program,” Ms. Mason said.
About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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