People’s Emergency Center

Digital Inclusion Program Helps Homeless Families

Background

People’s Emergency Center (PEC) is a homeless services and neighborhood revitalization nonprofit that serves Western Philadelphia. PEC has been using Mobile Beacon’s 4G service under a government-funded project that is part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

Implementation

Through BTOP and Mobile Beacon, PEC has launched multiple digital inclusion programs that open new doors for homeless families and put them on the path to opportunity. PEC redistributed Mobile Beacon’s 4G mobile hotspots to provide Internet access to families in their transitional and permanent housing programs. Their staff also uses the hotspots to set up ad hoc training labs to provide mobile services to residents. For example, they set up a mobile lab with 30 PCs and 4 mobile hotspots to provide voting information to low-income residents. PEC shared that Mobile Beacon’s hotspots are so easy to use, they can set up the entire mobile lab in less than 30 minutes.

Results

  • PEC distributed 300 mobile hotspots to low-income residents. PEC reports that families often elect to take the computers and Mobile Beacon modems with them when they leave once they find out how useful broadband and computers are for their children.
  • PEC is also running 20 computer training labs where youth can earn a free refurbished desktop. Adults also go there to get training, netbooks and the Mobile Beacon 4G hotspots, which they set up at home. Since 2010, PEC has delivered 80,000 hours of training to 50,000 people in these labs.
  • In 2014, PEC enrolled as a nonprofit partner with EveryoneOn to create a channel for residents to directly obtain Mobile Beacon’s $10/month Internet access.

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