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Cisco donates routers to give Oakland students Internet access

on February 8, 2011

Students at Oakland’s ARISE High School will soon have all the equipment they need to access the Internet at home; on Monday they received a donation of 220 wireless routers from Cisco. They’re also eligible to get free computers from Oakland Technology Exchange West (OTX West), a non-profit that offers refurnished PCs and computer training to all Oakland students in grades 6 to 12.

A number of elected officials, including Mayor Jean Quan and schools superintendent Tony Smith joined the school’s leaders and dozens of students to celebrate Cisco’s gift yesterday.

“If we can get the Cisco routers in a few more parts of town and computers from Oakland Tech Exchange, we can make sure that someday every student in Oakland has a computer,” said Quan.

ARISE High School is a charter school located near the Fruitvale BART, with a focus on “preparing students from low income families to be the first in their families to attend college.” According to the school’s website, about 80 percent of its students are Latino and 90 percent are “first-generation college-bound.” The school’s class of 2010, which was its first graduating class, had a 100 percent four-year college admission rate, the website states.

“What we do day-to-day is just trying to do the good work,” said Romeo Garcia, the school’s co-principal. “I tell our students if we do the good work, opportunities will come our way.”

Dawanna Butler, a student representative, said she found it a little ironic that every student at the school has ARISE email addresses but all of them don’t have computers. “We learned a lot about researching skills,” Butler said. “We can use what we learned in class at home now.”

Gostavo Muro, a junior sitting in the crowd, said with the router he will also get a computer from OTX West so he doesn’t have to go to a public library to type his essays.

Simon Fleming-Wood, Vice President of Marketing for Cisco Consumer Products, said their routers have significant parental controls so students’ activities can be easily monitored. Bruce Buckelew, director of QTX West, said in addition to the parental features of the routers, they’ll also teach the parents to use filtering software to regulate their children’s Internet usage. He added that his group will work with students’ families to find the most affordable Internet services as well.

“I am a complete believer that if you are not technologically connected, you are going to be left behind,” Buckelew said.

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