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Computer lab team-5th Ave HighRise

Team from left to right: Christine, Tamara, Pecolia, Mark, Allichia 

5th Avenue High-Rises Computer Lab

IT, in partnership with members of the TLC Phillips Hub and others, facilitated the setup of a new computer lab at the Minneapolis Public Housing 5th Avenue High-Rises in the Phillips community.

The initiative was led by an IT student, Mark Anderson, from the Takoda Institute, the High-Rise Resident Council and Allichia Pruitt, the site’s property manager. Pecolia Perkins, the Vice President of the Resident Council and their leader on the project, has a vision for the Community Center as a computer and media lab and as a way to encourage residents to learn and make use of a variety of technologies.

The computer lab will be available for all 243 households and their guests, making use of a free Wireless Minneapolis community benefits account and computers from Minnesota Computers for Schools.

Mark Anderson will provide initial training in the computer lab, using a "train-the-trainer" model, and create training materials and references so the Resident Council can continue to support the lab their own. 


At the January 24, 2013 TLC Phillips Hub meeting, Mark Anderson indicated an interest to use his Service Learning Experience at Takoda Institute toward getting computer and Internet access set up within Minneapolis Public Housing community centers.  Based on our 2012 Community Technology survey results, City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren had suggested that the 5th Avenue High Rises would be a good place to partner with. 

March 14, 2013: first team meeting at the High-Rise to discuss the concept and resources. The group is very enthusiastic and sees high value in setting up a new computer lab. 

March 29, 2013: Minneapolis City Council approved request for free Wireless Minneapolis Community Benefits Account for the project

April 1, 2013:  Mark Anderson presented cost estimates and equipment options to the Resident Council for setting up the new computer lab

April 8, 2013: Mark performed maintenance on the 2 existing computers in the Community Center:  Ran disk cleanup and defragmented hard drives; ran a virus scan on both machines; set up Admin and Community user accounts; installed Firefox browser; installed Open Office. Both machines are humming along nicely and are ready to integrate into the new network.

April 9, 2013:  USIW installed the wireless service, using the community benefits account.  The team reported the installation went very well.

April 15, 2013:  Team meeting held to review status.  Tamara Gillard from Minnesota Computers for Schools attended to discuss equipment and services.  The Resident Council finalized the equipment order and the delivery date was set for April 29. The team also discussed Internet filtering options. 

April 19, 2013:  Mark provided the following update:

I spent the afternoon in the computer lab with Pecolia Perkins. Since my last visit the computer lab has been completely remade into a cheery, roomy space with lots of room for growth!

Our accomplishments:

April 29, 2013:  Minnesota Computers for Schools delivered equipment

May 3, 2013:  More progress notes from Mark:

Things keep moving along!

Monday morning Tamara Gillard delivered the desktop PC , two laptops, and printer. All of these look and perform just like new- MCFS does great work.

Wednesday I began the process of connecting the printers (they are keeping the old printer in the stable for its scanning and color printing capabilities) to the network, finishing this work is on the agenda for Friday.

Vice President Pecolia Perkins of the Resident Council is taking the lead in the effort to get the word out to the residents about the new equipment, and also finding volunteers willing and able to monitor the lab and help users with questions.

May 9, 2013: From Pecolia's email:

Elise, What seemed like a insurmountable goal, has now reached its target and the results could have not been any better - our Computer Media Lab looks great, it feels great, we set out with a plan and we locked it down. To have you, Mark, and Tamara assisting us has been a great learning experience as to what can be accomplished.

June 3, 2013: Celebration! We held a grand opening on June 3 to celebrate the successful completion of the project.  5th_Ave_Computer_Lab_Celebration

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren attended to congratulate the team and noted in his Ward 6 June 14 Newsletter:  "The 5th Avenue Computer and Media Center project is the first of its kind with MPHA, but more are on the way. At today’s City Council meeting we approved another free Wireless Community Account for a highrise in Northeast Minneapolis at 1815 Central Avenue. With projects like these, we will continue to close the digital divide and make sure all residents of Minneapolis have access to the internet, and have more tools they need to succeed. I want to thank the Resident Council Members at the 5th Avenue Highrise and the leadership of Ms. Pecolia Perkins, the Vice President of the Resident Council. I want to recognize the commitment and work of both Elise Ebhardt of the Minneapolis IT Dept. and our Chief Information Officer Otto Doll to this, and all digital inclusion, efforts. Thanks, too, to Mark Anderson from the Takoda Institute, who as part of a service project set up the Center and provided training to residents. Lastly, thanks to Minnesota Computers for School for providing the computers."

Pictured at the grand opening celebration (Left to Right): Tamara Gillard, MN computers for Schools; Elise Ebhardt, City of Mpls IT Dept.;Robert Lilligren, 6th Ward City Council Member; Ahmed Warsame, Resident Council President; Pecolia Perkins, Resident Council Vice President; Mark Anderson, Takoda Institute; Allichia Pruitt, MPHA Property Manager; and Sharif Ali, resident.

See photo album of the celebration.

Next steps:  Continue relationships and offering computer training.  Introduction to the City's CTEP AmerCorps Member to support training and community connections. 

Last updated Sep 27, 2016



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