06-22-2018  3:26 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

Lawsuit seeks lawyer access to immigrants in prison

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A rights group filed an emergency lawsuit in federal court Friday against top officials of U.S. immigration and homeland security departments, alleging they have unconstitutionally denied lawyers' access to immigrants in a prison in Oregon.Immigration and Customs...

Oregon woman accused of mistreating 3 children

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — Police arrested an Oregon woman accused of criminally mistreating three children in her care.Lt. Henry Reimann of the Hillsboro Police Department says Merlinda Avalos limited the kids to two peanut sandwiches a day, prevented them from using the bathroom at night and...

Man charged in 1986 killing of 12-year-old Tacoma girl

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A Lakewood man suspected of killing a 12-year-old girl in Tacoma over three decades ago has been charged with murder and rape.The News Tribune reports Pierce County prosecutors charged 66-year-old Gary Hartman Friday in connection with Michella Welch's death in 1986. She...

Federal agency approves Idaho field burning rules

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials have approved Idaho's request to loosen field burning rules.Backers say the move offers more flexibility to keep smoke away from people but health advocates counter that it will lead to breathing problems for some residents.The U.S. Environmental...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Germany, Mexico, Belgium headline Saturday games

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Friday at the World Cup (all times local):1:13 a.m.Will Germany follow Brazil's lead in righting the ship after a rocky World Cup start, or will the defending champ find itself keeping company with Argentina, needing help if it hopes to advance?The World Cup could...

Trial set in long-delayed post-Katrina racial shooting case

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A trial date has been set for a white man accused of shooting at three black men in what federal prosecutors said was a racially motivated attack following Hurricane Katrina.The case of Roland Bourgeois Jr. has dragged on for years. He was indicted five years after the...

Xhaka and Shaqiri score for Swiss, make Albanian symbol

KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) — Albania's national flag was at the center of Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday at the World Cup.Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated their goals by making a nationalist symbol of their ethnic Albanian heritage.Both players put their open hands...

ENTERTAINMENT

Actress Betty Buckley wants to 'make America happy again'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — There's busy. And then there's Betty Buckley busy.The veteran singer and actress began the month with four nights of concerts in New York celebrating the release of her new live album, "Hope."Buckley appeared earlier this week on the season finale of The CW's "Supergirl,"...

So much TV, so little summer: Amy Adams, Kevin Hart, Dr. Pol

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The fall television season is months away but that's no reason to stare moodily at a blank screen. In this era of peak TV, there are so many outlets and shows clamoring for your summertime attention that it can be as daunting as choosing between a mojito and a frozen...

Honduran girl in symbolic photo not separated from mother

NEW YORK (AP) — A crying Honduran girl depicted in a widely-seen photograph that became a symbol for many of President Donald Trump's immigration policies was not actually separated from her mother, U.S. government officials said on Friday.Time magazine used an image of the girl, by Getty...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Mexican players can have beef again at the World Cup

MOSCOW (AP) — Mexico's mantra for this World Cup is "No Excuses," and that includes no complaining about...

US officials say girl on Time cover isn't separated from mom

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Border Patrol officials said Friday that a girl who is pictured on the cover of this...

Ex-New England Mafia boss 'Cadillac Frank' guilty in slaying

BOSTON (AP) — Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was convicted Friday of killing a nightclub owner to keep...

UK split by Brexit divide 2 years after vote to leave EU

LONDON (AP) — It's been two years since the shoppers and traders of London's Romford market voted by a wide...

Italy vows to expel far more migrants, but it won't be easy

ROME (AP) — Barely a week in office, Italy's populist interior minister lost no time in bringing home his...

Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North and South Korea agreed Friday to hold temporary reunions of families...

Tony Hopson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Loretta Smith and Nicolas Jimenez
By Christen McCurdy | The Skanner News

Retired Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee visited Portland Monday to talk about closing the city’s digital divide – and for 143 Portland families, that divide got smaller.

Self Enhancement, Inc. hosted an event Monday afternoon to promote Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which offers no-contract Internet access to low-income families – along with in-person, printed and online training opportunities to familiarize users with computers – that culminated with 143 families going home with free laptops. None of the families had been notified they’d be leaving with a laptop.

“When you talk about the digital divide, you’re bridging that gap and also giving young people and families a level playing field -- and that’s what we all want, is a level playing field,” Joyner-Kersee told The Skanner.

Internet Essentials customers -- who qualify if they have children who are eligible for free or reduced lunch or if they live in subsidized housing – can also purchase laptops for $150 through Comcast.

Since 2011, when Internet Essentials began, Multnomah County – recognizing that $150 can be a burdensome amount for many families -- has dedicated funding to purchase laptops for eligible households in partnership with Comcast.

County commissioner Loretta Smith said the county works with organizations that serve low-income families, such as Head Start or SEI, to identify families who might benefit from the gift of a laptop and from reduced-cost Internet access, as well as digital literacy training.

Mari Young, a mother of two who spoke with The Skanner in advance of the laptop giveaway, works for a medical equipment company and said she primarily accesses the Internet using her phone, or sometimes borrows her mother’s laptop – but connects through the Internet Essentials wi-fi service rather than her phone’s data plan.

“A lot of times, [my children] have assignments where they have to research things at home, and we don’t have a computer so it’s kind of harder to walk to the library or wait around to use a computer,” Young told The Skanner.

SEI founder Tony Hopson said most of the families who received laptops Monday were part of the Jefferson High School cluster, with many living in Northeast Portland or East Portland.

According to Rebecca Brown, senior manager of community investments at Comcast, about 18,000 families in Oregon and southwest Washington have used the Internet Essentials program since its inception in 2011. Initially, the program was available only to families with children who qualify for free or reduced lunch. In August, Comcast partnered with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to offer the program to families in HUD-assisted residences, public housing or Section 8 housing – making 30,000 more households eligible for the program.

Comcast subsidizes the cost of the $150 computers, but the $9.95 is a price point it set for qualifying families, who can apply for the program either by visiting Internetessentials.com or calling 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376).

Nicolas Jimenez, senior manager for Internet Essentials, said Comcast works with nonprofits and institutions like libraries all over the country to provide digital literacy training, and the way the program is implemented will vary depending on what individual communities need.

“We work with nonprofits, with libraries to provide in-person digital literacy training. We work with partners all over the country. The way that work is implemented can vary slightly, but it’s all about building awareness of the fact that this program exists, providing training and resources so we can get folks to cross over the digital divide,” Jiminez said.

“The most important part of this effort to me is things becoming actionable, with the training that’s necessary and with the families being connected to something that’s going to continue,” Hopson said. “We could have three million, we could have ten million folks who’ve touched a computer. That don’t mean that they really know what to do with it and that they’re going to follow through and it becomes a part of their life, that the access becomes so real that now they’re a better individual with more access to jobs and all kinds of things.”

Before she became the spokesperson for Internet Essentials, she said, Joyner-Kersee created a community center in East St. Louis that included a computer lab to help ensure kids would have the ability to have Internet access for homework – and parents for job applications.

“We’re in a global economy. When you talk about that digital divide, if young people do not have access to the Internet to do their homework. You’re talking about, really, the diminishment of self-esteem and kids dropping out of school because all the homework is on the Internet. Also, when parents are trying to apply for jobs or do applications, a lot of it is dealing with technology,” Joyner-Kersee said. She went on to say that watching families receive their new laptops was “like Christmas coming early.”

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