New Tech Learning Lab Promotes STEM Learning in Washington Heights

Posted on August 22, 2018 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

“This Is a Dream Come True”

By Teresa Santiago

Catholic Charities NY Media Consultant

Catholic Charities NY’s Alianza Youth Division launched a partnership with Charter Communications, known in New York as Spectrum, in late July with the unveiling of a Spectrum Learning Lab at the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center in Washington Heights.

The new lab has been designed to provide local students with technology access to help with schoolwork, college preparation, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. The communication company provided computer equipment and internet access to Catholic Charities at no charge.  It is the 25th computer lab that Spectrum opened at nonprofit and community-based organizations across New York City.

“This is a dream come true for us,” marveled Eddie Silverio, Director of Youth Services for Catholic Charities Community Services.  “We want this to be an interactive lab,” he said. “We’re going to have classes to teach Excel, coding, STEM, and many other things.”

The lab will be run by Catholic Charities and Alianza Cultural Center, with onsite staff offering training in classes such as English as a Second Language (ESL), basic Excel and Windows programming.


Silverio explained that all programs were designed to enhance employability and college viability of young people in this heavily first generation Dominican American neighborhood. He said CUNY’s Dominican Studies Institute (DSI) and other groups have made arrangements to use the lab, adding that the goal was to eventually open the lab to the community at large.

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, said the lab would help young people in Washington Heights to grow and prepare for the future

“You can’t do that without technology,” he remarked. “Why do we have to export so many tech jobs overseas? We’re taking a step forward to make sure that our young people are part of the future, that they have good jobs that they can participate in the economy.”

U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who represents the district and attended the launch’s ribbon cutting ceremony added that “this is very good for the community.” He praised the company for its willingness to open computer labs in middle-class and low-income neighborhoods adding “You’re a great partner with this community.”

(L-R) Mrgr. Kevin Sullivan, US Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Charlie Agius, & Eddie Silverio

Charter Communications uses its Spectrum Learning Labs to improve community access to high-speed broadband, digital technology and re-learning programs.  Each Spectrum Learning Lab is fully equipped with a suite of products and services including brand new computers with computer software and HD TVs Spectrum Business provides internet services and HD services including an HD DVR all underwritten by Spectrum. Other Spectrum Learning Labs have been opened in various sites such as the Ali Forney Center, the National Action Network headquarters, Hispanic Federation and the Police Athletic League’s Harlem Center.

 “We are proud to support the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center’s efforts to support and strengthen the Dominican and Latino community in Northern Manhattan through work in the areas of literacy, performing and visual arts,” said Charlie Agius, Spectrum’s Area Vice President for Field Operations.  “New York’s Spectrum Learning Lab program demonstrates our commitment to empowering communities with investments that help bridge the digital divide and provide access to technology.  The learning labs are really designed to teach the digital technology that people might not be getting access to elsewhere.”