What Can We Learn from People’s Emergency Center’s KEYSPOT?

People’s Emergency Center (PEC), opened in 1972 as a homeless shelter to help address the issue of homelessness in West Philadelphia. Eventually, PEC transformed into several community development corporation programs, which respond to community needs and build on neighborhood assets. A core component of PEC’s programming also focuses on the digital divide. PEC’s Center for Digital Inclusion and Technology was created in February 2003 to assist students of all ages develop technology skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

People waving to one another outside of PEC building

PEC also functions as a KEYSPOT, and there are two KEYSPOT computer labs at PEC. The first lab is located at PEC’s Gloria’s Place branch, which is reserved for residents in emergency and transitional housing. The second location is at Families First on 3939 Warren Street, 2nd floor, and is open to the public.  KEYSPOTs are staffed by instructors who help clients build basic to advanced digital skills. The PEC Families First KEYSPOT offers computer classes including resume workshops, basic computer operations, internet navigation, email and Microsoft Suite trainings.

Along with the resources this KEYSPOT offers adults, it also welcomes children from the community to use the lab for school projects, homework, or just to surf the internet. The Families First KEYSPOT also offers a variety of innovative digital literacy workshops focused on youth. Tan Vu, Director of Digital Inclusion at PEC, explained that students use computers at the KEYSPOT to edit videos of projects happening in the community. Vu says, “Children are given the technology to tell their story.”

PEC class

The network of other KEYSPOT locations in West Philadelphia allows patrons to alternate labs to accommodate their personal schedule. For example, Sherry, a frequent flyer at the PEC Families First KEYSPOT lab shared with us that when the PEC Families First’s open access hours are over she simply takes an 8-minute walk down Spring Garden street to the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships KEYSPOT at Drexel University.

The PEC Families First KEYSPOT continues to build its reputation as a welcoming and safe place for adults and children. Lab assistant Shirley Brendlinger expressed how important it is to ensure that adults and seniors feel support in the process of learning computer basics, “You have to understand that these people [senior citizens] are not born with a mouse in their hand and when you say ‘click’, they don’t know what you mean.” She went on to explain that PEC staff take special care to take their class step by step through the process of building their computer navigation skills, how to use email, and learning to use the internet.

PEC is committed to helping citizens be inspired to reach new heights. Drop in during open access hours, or call PEC today for more information about free digital literacy classes!


PEC Families First KEYSPOT

3939 Warren Street, 2nd Floor

( 2 6 7 ) 777-5846

Open Access hours: Mon: 10 a.m.-3:45 p.m.; Tues, Weds, Thurs: 1 p.m. -3:45 p.m.


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