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Friends of the Children gets technology grant

Friends of the Children and the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission have joined forces to bring technology upgrades to low-income children in East Multnomah County.

The MHCRC awarded Friends of the Children a $218,000 grant to install advanced digital technology in its new youth center currently under construction in the Rockwood neighborhood.

The money will be used to install state of the art audio, visual and digital equipment in the center, which is being built on the footprint of the former Police Activities League site at 424 N.E. 172 Ave.

Friends broke ground on the building in January and expect to complete the new 8,000-square-foot facility last October.

MHCRC officials reported that from 2000 to 2010, the number of students in Portland public schools grew by 6 percent, but the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch grew by 62 percent. The five school districts east of Interstate 205 have been the most affected, leaving schools and social services in the area strained to keep pace with the growing number of lower-income families moving to the area seeking affordable housing.

Friends is building its new youth center in the Rockwood community, where many of the families live. The grant will allow the nonprofit organization to fill the center with advanced technology to benefit the growth and academic development of the children.

At least 300 children enrolled in the Friends program will have access to technology, including iPads, iMacs, reading level specific e-Books with comprehension quizzes, interactive remote tutoring, online classroom capabilities, and access to current digital media equipment.

The MHCRC is the grant-making body for the Community Technology Grants program, which provides funds for technology projects to community organizations like libraries, educational institutions and local government agencies in Multnomah County. The program assists local entities in using cable system technology for enhanced communications, including video, data and voice applications. Funds for the Community Technology Grants program come from the cable services franchises negotiated by the MHCRC with Comcast, Frontier and Reliance Connects.