Time Warner Cable Learning Labs: Bridging the Digital Divide in Local Communities

Time Warner Cable Learning Labs: Bridging the Digital Divide in Local Communities

New Computer Center Opens at YWCA in Manhattan

Time Warner Cable Learning Lab

Ribbon Cutting at the YWCA Family Resource Center in NYC

Newest Time Warner Cable Learning Lab at The Center

Friday, December 12, 2014 - 12:05pm

CAMPAIGN: Making Connections That Matter

CONTENT: Article

By Lina Klebanov, Community Investment Manager

The Time Warner Cable Learning Labs initiative was launched in 2009 to address the needs of our local communities, especially those with under-served populations. By partnering with local nonprofit organizations, Time Warner Cable develops Learning Labs aimed at bridging the digital divide for communities in need across New York City. This initiative also allows us to create new, positive connections with local community organizations throughout our service area, thus broadening community support.

With the ever-expanding world of technology, children and adults need to be equipped for the future and access to computers and Internet is essential to their development. This is why Time Warner Cable has set a goal to open 40 Labs by the year 2020 with a commitment of over $2 million in cash support. This will provide low-income communities with the tools to prepare them for the future. Currently, 16 Time Warner Cable Learning Labs are operational in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The most recent home of a Time Warner Cable Learning Lab is at The Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan.  The LGBT Center serves 300,000 members of the community annually, offering the LGBT communities of NYC health and wellness programs, arts, entertainment, cultural events, recovery programs, wellness services, parenthood classes and family support services. 

When selecting a non-profit partner, we try spread out in order to have a balanced representation across our NYC footprint and serve the greatest population. In a city with no shortage of amazing non-profit organizations, selecting a partner can be a challenging process. Partners are selected to host and oversee the Learning Labs based on a series of requirements and business filters. We seek influential business partners who can best help us engage underserved communities while still aligning with our business goals. We target key multicultural and diverse groups that reflect our customer base and opportunities for customer growth. We award a grant to the selected non-profit partner for the purchase of computers, software, equipment and room furnishings necessary to outfit the Learning Lab. To celebrate the completion of a Learning Lab, a ribbon-cutting celebration is held to publicize the Lab to the local community, government and city officials, media, and internally to our employees. This year, ribbon-cutting ceremonies were attended by 14 city and state government officials and representatives from the NYC Department of IT and Telecommunications. This is a testament to the value and relevance the Learning Labs bring to a community.

The YWCA Family Resource Center is a recent recipient of a Time Warner Cable Learning Lab. Expanding upon an existing relationship, this Learning Lab provides resources to unemployed and underemployed women to help secure job placement. The Learning Lab will also allow the YWCA to expand their existing “GeekGirls” program, which is designed to give young women the tools, knowledge, and experience necessary to pursue STEM careers and higher education, that TWC also supports. Being able to expand and strengthen our partnerships beyond the tangible Learning Lab is extremely rewarding and allows us to maximize our contribution and impact. Recently, a group of TWC senior leaders volunteered in a career development session with a group of women who are part of the YWCA Women’s Empowerment Network, to engage in mock interviews and resume review. Follow up workshops for interviewing, resume building and dressing for success will be held in the coming weeks. This partnership exemplifies how partnering with influential non-profit organizations that can best help us engage and assist underserved communities and create mutually beneficial outcomes.   

In addition to the socioeconomic needs of our communities, we also consider other major circumstances that contribute to need, such as the effects of Super Storm Sandy. In the wake of Sandy, we opened Learning Labs with the Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation in Queens and Red Hook Initiative in Brooklyn - both communities were devastated after Sandy and our Learning Labs provided the tools for a number of vital programs offered by both organizations. Rockaway’s seniors have particularly taken advantage of the Learning Labs and next week the second graduating class of the Learning Labs program will proudly receive their certificates in various levels of computer skills. Ali Forney Center, a NYC organization that provides services to homeless LGBT youth, is also the recipient of a Time Warner Cable Learning Lab in their new 24-hour drop-in center in Harlem, that opened in 2013.  Their previous drop-in center was destroyed by floodwaters from Super Storm Sandy.  

This year alone, almost 10,000 community members have benefited from the TWC Learning Labs, utilizing the computers for such things as workforce development, specialized computer software workshops and homework help. TWC Learning Labs also showcase our products and services, while establishing the TWC brand through a network of strong, high-profile and diverse community partners across NYC. Our commitment will continue to grow and provide much needed resources to those in need and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of that process. 

Follow us to learn more about Time Warner Cable's activities in New York City.