“Have you seen ‘Charlie Bit My Finger?’” Trelena Thomas asked through a tempered laugh when calhealthreport.org met up with her to film the final piece in our three-part series on the family. Since carrying her San Diego Broadband Initiative computer through the door of her Mid-City apartment a week ago, family time has come to include YouTube favorites. But what’s more, Thomas has connected to services and groups that promise to improve her family’s quality of life–her middle daughter has already climbed half a reading level thanks to an online reading program.
Author: Robert Knauf and Megan Burks
Just three weeks ago, Trelena Thomas was learning the computer basics—the difference between right and left mouse clicks and what a URL is. Now, in the second installment of our three part series, watch as Thomas and her daughters bridge the digital divide with their first home computer, a former County of San Diego desktop refurbished by the San Diego Futures Foundation. Now come the bigger questions: who gets to play games first and is Facebook allowed?
Trelena Thomas left her job as a nurse to care for her three daughters, one a quadriplegic, before computers and the Internet became mainstays of the job. She didn’t expect that such technology would eventually become an important tool in her new job as a stay-at-home mom, but lacking a home computer has increasingly interfered with her daughters’ school work and her ability to find services for the family.
In a departure from traditional philanthropic awards, the Gary and Mary West Foundation awarded $50,000 to a youth-run Web design company in City Heights for jobs—not job development alone. The grant allows DiverseCity Tech—a group of young entrepreneurs performing an e-vitalization of mom-and-pop shops in the immigrant neighborhood—to hire three paid interns who will quickly navigate the ranks to become new media professionals before they’re old enough to order a drink. The program is a project of the San Diego Futures Foundation and aims to revitalize area businesses through websites and social media, meanwhile providing a similar path to self-sufficiency for its young employees.
The San Diego Unified School District, which spans affluent coastal communities and troubled inner-city neighborhoods alike, faces a $142 million deficit next school year. With the recent failure of Proposition J, a tax measure that would have helped bridged that gap, district officials are looking for places to make deep cuts. Laying off counseling staff and teachers, asking schools to share principals, and compounding magnet complexes into comprehensive schools are among the suggestions. This, coupled with state cuts to mental health services in schools, has students and teachers at the Crawford Educational Complex in City Heights worried their funding will be slashed in ways that ignore the special needs of the many refugee and immigrant students in the community.