Grambling State University, a Louisiana-based Historically Black College and University, will work with six African-American churches in six rural parishes in north Louisiana to increase Internet connectivity among church members. GSU will place a computer lab, featuring a minimum of five networked computers, in each of the six churches. A cadre of volunteers from the churches will receive extensive training to enable them to staff the computer lab and support their fellow congregation members in their endeavor to learn to use the Internet. The volunteers will work with church staff to select families who will receive the use of a computer with Internet access for 36 months. GSU will provide demonstrations in the church and additional training to families receiving a computer to teach them how to access information and assistance in areas of education, health, workforce development, and family values, as well as community information. GSU will create a home page that links users to its Nursing, Education, and Social Work Departments, and to The CareerNET Center and Technical Support. The church will retain the community computer lab until usage has significantly declined at which time the lab will be set up in another church and the project will begin anew. The project hopes to demonstrate how churches can play a role in serving as a catalyst to get more low-income, black families using technology, and how computers in the home can make a positive difference for all family members.
Little is known about Internet usage habits of rural, low-income African-Americans. This project will gather base-line information about how the computer is used, who in the family uses it, areas of interest, amount of time spent on the Internet and changes that occur in the families' daily lives due to Internet usage. The data will be extremely helpful to non-profit organizations and companies seeking to increase computer usage among African-Americans. The project will represent the first time many of the church members have been exposed to the Internet. Penetration among poor, rural African-Americans is lowest of all Americans. The six parishes chosen for this project have double the US average number of people living below the poverty line and unemployment is four times the national average in some areas. Louisiana currently ranks 47th in the nation in terms of adults with Internet access. The partnership between a historically black college and black churches will help ensure the project's success. Both partners yield tremendous influence in the black community and will be a powerful team to help bring Louisiana's most rural communities into the Information Age.
Grambling State University will work with black churches in six rural parishes: Claiborne, Jackson, Morehouse, Union, West Carroll and Winn.