The Hispanic Family Center Ministries

The NC35 WorldLegacy Leadership project created a computer learning center with eight fully loaded computers, renovated a family gathering room, and created a space for preschoolers to play called the “dream room.” Budget: $24,000. January 2001.

To remove the digital divide

By Ned Glascock; STAFF WRITER
January 21, 2001
RALEIGH — Inside an unassuming brick building downtown, an experiment in spanning the digital divide is about to begin.
With the help of a team of volunteers and a bank of donated equipment, a new computer lab opens Monday at the Hispanic Family Center, offering after-school tutorials to Latino children. The idea is to give disadvantaged Hispanic families, whether immigrants or native-born U.S. citizens, access to the online world of information and opportunity. At the same time, organizers aim to support youngsters struggling to balance two cultures and two languages and inspire them not to fall behind in school or drop out.
“We realize there is a digital divide growing in the Hispanic population, and we’re trying to bridge that gap,” said Bill Herrera Beardall, a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council of Hispanic/Latino Affairs, who helped spearhead the effort.
“In this day’s world and economy, when everything seems to be driven by the computer or having access to the Internet – and just for getting a job – computer knowledge is critical,” said Beardall, assistant director of facility operations at N.C. State University. In Spanish, the free program is called Espiritu del Sol, or Spirit of the Sun, drawing on the notion of the sun’s shedding light upon the planet and its people. Its start coincides with a growing push to narrow the achievement gap reflected on standardized test scores between white and Asian students, on the one hand, and African-American, Hispanic and American Indian students.
Espiritu del Sol is a public-service project launched by a group of Triangle residents taking part in an adult-education and leadership program run by The WorldLegacy, a Chapel Hill company. After winning the blessing of the Hispanic Family Center’s director, WorldLegacy participants got the Environmental Protection Agency to donate eight computers and loaded them with educational software featuring courses in math, science and reading. Group members also helped renovate an old conference room in the Hispanic Family Center’s headquarters inside the Catholic Social Ministries building at 226 Hillsborough Street. And they fixed up a small space for preschoolers called the “Dream Room,” with bright rugs and walls painted with green fields, blue mountains and a bright sun on one side and the moon and stars on another. Consuelo Kwee, director of the Hispanic center, said the new after-school program will serve children in kindergarten through 12th grade who sign up through Wake County public schools and churches.
To Kwee, Espiritu del Sol is a blessing: “My dream has always been so big to help these people. This is like God’s gift to me.”
Reprinted with Permission of The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina.