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Grant could bring netbooks to Crawford Center


Nathan Gregory



The Crawford Center could have netbook computers soon. 


Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority is applying for $12,000-to-$15,000 in grant funding from Toyota that would fund 25 Samsung Chromebooks and a storage cart for the wireless devices. Residents would be able to go to the community center and use a computer on site. 


CLRA Programs Director Greg Lewis has coordinated with District 4 Lowndes County Supervisor Jeff Smith to put together the grant application, which is due next month. The grant does not require a match from the county or CLRA. If the application is awarded, the Greater Columbus Learning Center would provide software and instruction that would be used to help teach senior citizens how to use a computer. 


"Senior citizens, there are a lot of them that are afraid of the computer, but because this technology is the wave of the future so we want to make sure these seniors have the tools they need to navigate the web and learn to use a computer," Lewis said. 


The 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative, which is under the process of implementation by Lowndes County School District, is designed to place a computer tablet or laptop in the hands of every student. Smith and Lewis noted, however, that students would not be taking those computers home to use for learning. 


"With children, the only access for some of them to the Internet is while they're in school," Lewis said, adding that the computers would also be available for the general public and could be useful for people to go online and look for jobs. 


Smith said this is a pilot program in the works and is hopeful that if the application is awarded, CLRA can continue applying again in future years to provide computers for each of its other seven community centers. 


"Our plans are to introduce it to every community center," Smith said. "(Toyota is) willing for us to come back each and every year and apply for additional funds for each and every community center so each one in Lowndes County has the same opportunity to have these computers available to the citizens of Lowndes County." 


Lewis said Internet is already accessible at the center, and all it needs is the tools for people to access it. 


"I feel good about the grant proposal," Lewis said. "There is definitely a need for the computers, and in talking with the representative that gave me the information from Toyota, she was certainly encouraging in us submitting this proposal." 


The Crawford Center, located on 753 Martin Luther King St., is a 5,000-square-foot building with three activity rooms, storage and an auditorium. There is also a gym, playground area, softball field and walking track near the facility.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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