Grant targets digital divide

The Science Museum of Virginia receives a grant to provide technology and training to the underserved in Richmond.

The Science Museum of Virginia earlier this month was awarded a federal

grant of $284,000 to help it bridge the digital divide in Richmond, the

state capital.

The money will pay for a program — called the AEIOU (Access, Equity,

Innovation, Opportunity and Ubiquity) Community Technology Centers Project

— that will use both fixed and mobile means to get computers into disadvantaged

areas, according to Walter Witschey, the museum's director.

The Blackwell Community Center on the south side of the city will house

a technology center for the local community, and the museum will develop

a mobile technology center to travel to various locations to offer computer-based

after-school programs and adult training.

"Children will be introduced to the use of computers through such things

as English and science achievement programs," Witschey said, "while adults

will use computers for workforce training, and to acquire extra skills that

will help them deal with life in the digital age."

While it might seem a little unusual to choose the Science Museum to

develop this program, it is actually very appropriate, he said. The museum

already has an innovative and extensive high-tech infrastructure through

such resources as its Community Technology Exploration Studio, and has taken

on the cause of providing educational services to all Virginia citizens

as a core mission.

"We have become rather nimble-footed about these things," Witschey said.

"We are now very used to providing science and technology education for

all ages, and the museum has been aggressively collaborative [with the community]

in doing so."

The grant was given by the U.S. Department of Education.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

Related links

Science Museum of Virginia

"Museum stocks Web with U.S. history" [Federal Computer Week, Aug. 20, 2001]


"Grants boost library technology" [, July 27, 2001]