New Digital Learning Lab Delivers Technology to Underserved Families in East Buffalo | Local News

Buffalo’s digital divide is narrowing with the opening of a new public digital lab Tuesday at Crucial’s community center in East Buffalo.

“Digital literacy and high-speed Internet access are no longer a luxury; they should be considered a critical access point for every community,” said Thomas Beauford Jr., president and CEO of the Buffalo Urban League. “It’s now a matter of social justice, and beyond that, it’s a matter of 21st century civil rights.”

The AT&T Digital Learning Lab includes 30 computers, new furniture, laptops, tablets and a 3D printer for students and their families. After-school programs and mentoring will be available. AT&T offers a free digital learning program called The Achievery.

The lab, located at 230 Moselle St., was created through AT&T’s collaboration with the Buffalo Urban League and Dreamerscorp Inc.

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Taelyr Duncan, left, and Kamya Saddler, both 9, share tips as they try out the new computers at the grand opening of the new state-of-the-art AT&T Digital Learning Lab at the Community Center @CRUCIAL, Tuesday, August 16, 2022. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Derek Gee/Buffalo News

“We needed an innovation hub, where we can push forward and propel diversity and inclusion into the tech space,” said Nigel Brown, CEO of Dreamerscorp.

In Buffalo, more than 11,400 K-12 students do not have home internet access, according to K-12 Digital Bridge. This was a particularly big issue at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when most students were attending school remotely.

AT&T created the New York Digital Literacy Lab Initiative to help provide computing access in digital deserts. The company is launching five new labs across New York, with Crucial’s lab being the second to open.

According to Kevin Hanna, director of external affairs at AT&T, supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic caused some delays, but the lab managed to be completed in less than a year.

Brown said the state-of-the-art lab is set up for students to participate in programs such as videography, podcasting, journaling and game creation.

“You have to make sure there’s a solid foundation to have strong impact and results,” Brown said. “The only way to do that is to have the best tools.”

The Lab is a welcome addition to the Community Center, which already has an Esports program, community space, and gymnasium. Center programs run six days a week, with after-school hours during the school year and all-day programs during the summer.

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Amira Williams, 11, left, and Taelyr Duncan, 9, react as they learn about a new software feature on new computers during the grand opening of the state-of-the-art AT&T Digital Learning Lab at the Community Center @ CRUCIAL, Tuesday August 16, 2022.

Derek Gee/Buffalo News

Fierra Green of Buffalo said her 11-year-old daughter, Amira, struggled to read in school. She said the lab will benefit her daughter, especially during the summers when children sometimes lose skills learned during the school year.

“It will be great to help him out,” Green said. “Now that we have this facility here, it can put her on the right track for school.”

Amira said the lab would help her be better prepared in math class. She said she is excited about what the new technology has to offer.

“It’s good,” Amira said. “I can’t wait to discover new seats, new equipment and new things to learn.”

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