Hacienda News

Introducing Arrobas, Hacienda’s New STEM and Digital Literacy Program

October 06, 2021

BRidging the Digital Divide

Hacienda has created Arrobas, a program that will manage the three new learning centers in partnership with other organizations. The program will provide students with STEM Education, adults with digital literacy training, and both high school students and adults with workforce development. 

Hacienda CDC secured $4 million in strategic partnerships that will lead to the opening of three learning centers providing community members—from youth to adults—with digital skills, STEM education, and workforce development opportunities through advanced technology and educational resources. 

The Cully Learning Center will be the first to open this fall and will be located at Hacienda CDCThe second center will open in the winter in the Portsmouth neighborhood at Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center + Rosemary Anderson High School (POIC + RAHS). And in April of 2022, a Learning Center at Portland Community College will open its doors.  

Despite limitations related to COVID-19, the program launched virtually, focusing not just on STEM and digital literacy, but on efforts to address the digital divide. Thanks to the partnerships we built in short-order, we distributed 642 laptops, 242 internet assistance cards and 600 MiFi hotspots to families last winter who would have otherwise had no access. 

“We have received great feedback from participants,” says Julian Alexander, Innovation Labs Program Manager. “One student said that they ‘learned that tech isn’t just for one identity, and although we normally have the stereotype of what a programmer or someone who works in tech look like, that really is untrue.’” 

Among the partnerships that are making this possible, Hacienda CDC was selected as one of four grant recipients in the United States to join the Verizon Community Forward initiative. This program offers exploratory digital learning opportunities for STEM-related career pathways with a focus on job skills.  

Hacienda CDC is also excited to collaborate locally with Chicktech who have experience bringing technology to underserved populations, in addition to programming partners Oregon State University, Portland Community College, POIC & RAHS, and SUMA who will be providing workshops from advanced courses in engineering to job fairs. 

“We work to create bridges, whether they are for bridging the housing divide, the wealth divide, or as in this case, the digital divide,” says Ernesto Fonseca, CEO of Hacienda CDC. “The pandemic has left many without employment and many wishing for better employment. Our tech labs across Portland will offer STEM education for youth and workforce development for adults. Bringing STEM education to minorities in Portland complements our mission by providing another avenue for reaching financial stability through career training for the jobs of the future. This program will serve to reimagine the workforce in the short term, while building a culture of Si, STEM Se Puede! that will establish new generational dreams and bring the possibility of long-term growth to our communities.”