People's Emergency Center

Center Provides Tech Training to Low-Income Families with Donated IT

Created in 1972 as a shelter for homeless families, the People's Emergency Center (PEC) now takes a comprehensive approach to support women and children experiencing homelessness. By investing in the security of families, PEC also strives to increase opportunity in its community at large. It does so by improving life skills. To put this goal into action, PEC created its Center for Digital Inclusion and Technology, which was established in 2003.

A major part of getting a job is knowing your way around technology. Thus, PEC manages computer labs and provide instructors so folks can learn how to type email and search for jobs. PEC also offers refurbished computers for families to use throughout the center and in the community.

Diane found herself at PEC after fleeing an abusive relationship. From emergency to permanent housing, she traversed each support level offered. While at PEC, she was able to attend computer classes, equipping her for success in college. Diane's son, Shahad, who is a fourth grader, was able to gain computer skills of his own with "Tech Stars," a program for fifth and sixth graders. Diane has also served as a community liaison, spreading the word about PEC's programs for kids.

A major challenge facing this program is staying current with constantly evolving technology. Maintaining up-to-date products to best serve the community creates difficulties with funding. Nevertheless, with the help of TechSoup, PEC has been able to provide more than 600 donated Microsoft licenses for refurbished computers to residents and staff. The organization has also been able to set up 10 Wi-Fi hotspots using donated Cisco routers, and obtained 362 modems from Mobile Beacon directly for low-income families in west Philadelphia. With this collaboration with TechSoup, PEC can ensure that it has the right equipment to continue building tech skills for the people in the community.