Master electrician Harold DeLoach teaches students to use their skills to help others.
The TAIA-School (www.taiaschool.com) announced the completion of the new Beyond Literacy’s Mobile Learning Lab — a repurposed school bus equipped with computers, learning software, and mobile Wi-Fi. TAIA-School students did all of the Mobile Learning Lab’s commercial wiring. The mobile lab will help deliver digital access and skill-building services directly into low-connected communities across Philadelphia.
Beyond Literacy (BeLit) provides cost-free services equipping low-income adults and their families with the ability to improve their academic, digital literacy and employment skills, earn a High School Equivalency credential, develop English language proficiency, and gain living-wage employment.
Harold DeLoach is the director of education for The Academy of Industrial Arts (TAIA), which offers a 10-week pre-apprenticeship with industry-based training to learn electrical theory, safety, and use of tools, plus residential and commercial wiring. He used the project as a hands-on training opportunity for his students at City Electric Supply in Upper Darby from Aug. 29-31.
“The partnership is a great opportunity for my students to get real-world, hands-on experience to learn what is involved to become an electrician,” DeLoach said. “The bus renovation is a labor of community love.”
Relying on donated services from local fabricators and electricians, BeLit’s cross-sector collaboration is a win-win for those involved. The project, which started in September 2021, was the brainchild of the organization’s CEO, Kimmell Proctor, a finalist at Philanthropitch, a fast-pitch nonprofit competition. Winning the support of local philanthropists and corporations, she used $40,000 of seed funding to launch the project.
“Our success at Philanthropitch has allowed us to broaden our reach into Philadelphia’s hardest-to-reach neighborhood,” Proctor said. “It means so much to be able to bring our services directly to those who need them most, especially now as we work to emerge from the [COVID-19] pandemic.”
Other contributors include local legislative and corporate partners who understand that in today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever for all Philadelphia residents to have access to high-speed Internet and the knowledge necessary to navigate the world wide web. The BeLit Mobile Learning Lab provides just that — a cost-free computer lab staffed with experienced adult educators and digital navigators to help build tech skills and connect those who are without home Internet to affordable resources such as Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.
A ribbon-cutting for the Mobile Learning Lab is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sept. 24 during BeLit’s Community Resource Fair happening at 100 W. Oxford St. in Olde Kensington, Philadelphia. The public is invited to tour the bus and enjoy the family-friendly festivities from 12-4 p.m.
Throughout each week, the BeLit Mobile Learning Lab will park outside community centers throughout Philadelphia to bring connectivity and digital skills services to families seeking help in accessing and using modern technology.
“Having reliable connectivity and digital skills empowers community members to move up the economic ladder with the necessary skills to succeed in a digital world,” said Robert F. Smith, regional vice president of community impact at Comcast. “While Comcast has been working to address digital inequities in … Philadelphia for more than 10 years, alongside wonderful partners [such as] Beyond Literacy, the bus is an innovative tool to help reach more neighbors so no one is left behind — and we are proud to support it.”