ST. LOUIS – The grand opening of the new AT&T Connected Learning Center was held Friday at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis.

“Many of our families don’t have that opportunity to get plugged in, to be current in their connection with technology,” Flint Fowler, president of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis, said. “So, this gives them access to more learning opportunities, digital literacy and basically opens up the world to them by being able to use computers and the internet.”

The center is part of a nationwide initiative with the company. The Boys and Girls Club received a $50,000 contribution from AT&T, aimed at addressing the digital divide that affects nearly half of households in St. Louis.

They will be opening 50 centers, with St. Louis’ second location being the 38th. The rest are scattered around the country, according to Craig Unruh, AT&T president of Missouri and Arkansas.

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The new center is equipped with high-speed internet, Dell computers, and a variety of digital learning resources.

“I’m excited about the new computers…thank you for making the connection,” Jessie Jones, participant, said.  

This initiative includes free digital literacy courses and workshops developed in collaboration with the Public Library Association, which is something one former member says is desperately needed.

“We see a need across the entire country, especially right now with tax that we’re seeing on public schools and our school system overall. We need to give our scholars and their parents the opportunity to be able to reach out to reach the community where they are and not where we want them to be in that moment,” said Rep. Lakeysha Bosley, Missouri State Representative District 79.  

AT&T employees and community leaders are set to offer tutoring and mentoring, along with a plan to distribute 1,000 free laptops to the St. Louis region by the end of 2024, aiming to alleviate the digital divide.