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Sep 25, 2019

We Take It For Granted...

Many of us don’t think twice about going online to catch up with family and friends, check our bank balance, or send an email. However, for the 21 million Americans who do not have access to broadband internet, these activities cannot be taken for granted. Beyond binge-watching Netflix, a high-speed internet connection gives us access to information and the tools needed to carry out everyday activities. 

Just think about the student whose grades suffer because they can’t do their homework or download the study resources their teacher posted online. Or the new small business that needs a reliable internet connection to process payments and sell their products on the global marketplace. Or the elderly person living in a remote, rural area who depends on telehealth services to receive medical care because the nearest doctor is nearly 100 miles away. 

Of course, access to information alone cannot fix the inequalities borne out of the digital divide. That’s why Libraries Without Borders takes a community-driven approach to bridge the gap between the internet-haves and have-nots. By setting up pop-up libraries and learning spaces in public places—laundromats, community centers, playgrounds, mobile home parks—we create “connectivity oases” for people who would otherwise remain offline. 

Through our programs (which you can read more about them below), we equip people with the skills and technology they need to actually get online and access the information and tools relevant to their lives. Take for instance our Wash and Learn Initiative in Baltimore. Launched in June 2019, WALI Baltimore has transformed four laundromats in underserved parts of the city into community centers where patrons of all ages can use laptops and tablets, connect to the internet, or ask a librarian for help. Through this hyper-local approach, WALI Baltimore provides a more integrative, holistic approach to promoting digital literacy among the most disconnected residents in the city. It is a crucial step that lays the groundwork for building a more digitally inclusive city. 

None of these programs would exist without your generosity. As we enter into fall, we wanted to send our sincerest thanks for your continued support—along with an update about our programs.

We cannot thank you enough! 

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The Wash and Learn Initiative: Expanding a National Movement 

At present, LWB is running the Wash and Learn Initiative (WALI) in laundromats in eight states across the country. Each WALI site features library programming and is equipped with iPads, computers, books, and arts and crafts materials. At every WALI site, both children and adults have the opportunity to learn new skills from experts in basic, digital, health, and legal literacy, among other topics.

On Septmber 9th, we launched three new WALI sites in Detroit, Michigan. On September 16th and 21st, we launched two new WALI sites in San Antonio, Texas. 

In the months to come, we’ll upgrade WALI sites across the country, making sure every laundromat is up-to-date with high-speed tech and new, exciting books! 

The Ideas Box in Puerto Rico: Engaging the Youth 

Following the success of last summer’s pilot program, LWB continues to provide educational and cultural programming with the Ideas Box.  

Through your donations, and with generous support from SONY, we have expanded our pilot in Loíza into a full-year program. Additionally, winners from last May’s successful make-a-thon, “Empréndete: Loíza”, have further developed their ideas by designing strategic business plans. We are gearing up to use these plans to transform their ideas into reality! In further exciting news about results from the make-a-thon, everyone from the winning team received a laptop. One young adult, about to start university as an agriculture and engineering major, was especially happy; he finally had a computer that he could bring to university! 

In further news, this summer, two communities in Loíza organized summer camps for youth and young adults. In El Ancón de Loíza, community leader, Moreno, organized workshops focused on sustainable agriculture, health literacy, entrepreneurship, culture and dance, design thinking, and marketing. Young adults that participated in the camp all received stipends for their hard work and commitment to the trainings. In Sector 23 y las Gardenias, community leader, Danaliz, organized two summer camps: one for kids aged five to eleven and the other for kids aged twelve to twenty-two. These camps focused on sports, environmental stewardship, healthy eating, and entrepreneurship. Participants also received stipends based on their attendance and commitment to the program. 

The Legal Literacy Initiative: Addressing New Needs in Washington, D.C. 

In partnership with legal aid providers, local libraries, and nonprofits, we have curated, contextualized, and simplified legal resources to meet the needs of the communities we serve. With oversight from our Legal Literacy Advisory Board, we will continue to provide these communities with a steady stream of relevant and reliable legal information.  

Recently, we were awarded a grant by Immigrant Justice Legal Services (IJLS) to pivot our focus to the Asian community in Washington, D.C. and its surrounding suburbs. While we still provide legal information, the needs of this community have largely centered around health literacy and access to books. Consequently, we have switched our focus and are now working on bringing library services to centers serving this community, such as the Chinatown Senior Center.

Increasing Rural Literacy Rates: Building on the Success of Wash and Learn  

Building upon the best practices gleaned from the Wash and Learn Initiative, we plan to launch a program for residents living in manufactured housing communities in suburban and rural areas across the country. The pilot will begin in Fridley, Minnesota, where we have partnered with a local library and Park Plaza Co-Op,  a resident-owned  manufactured housing cooperative. Through this pilot, we will set up iPads, laptops, arts and crafts materials, and a space where residents can participate in library programming inside the co-op’s storm shelter. By working with the library and other community-based organizations, this pilot will provide residents with opportunities to develop basic, digital, health and legal literacy skills.

Links:

Jun 27, 2019

The Arts and Culture as Engines for Recovery

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's Ideas Box!

Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Puerto Rico experienced monumental devastation to life, property, livelihood, and cultural heritage. Once immediate disaster response efforts ended, communities were forced to grapple with the harsh realities of long-term recovery. As concerns about access to food, water and shelter subsided, residents increasingly worried about the impact that limited public services, namely the closure of 283 schools, would have on their daily lives. 

 

Last summer, your generosity gave Libraries Without Borders the opportunity to bring the Ideas Box to the island. With this dynamic tool, we were able to run a pilot program in two communities, Loíza and La Perla.

 

Building upon the success of that pilot, LWB launched “Empréndete: Loíza” earlier this year. This series of community-building events aimed to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and the creative arts. On May 25th, we officially kicked off the series with a two-day make-a-thon in Loíza, the first event of its kind to take place in Puerto Rico! The weekend ended with a competition to design the best prototype for promoting positive social change in Loíza. The winning team, Proyecto 187, will use photography as a means to diffuse violence in their community. By capturing images of daily life in Loíza, teens will have the opportunity to share their perspectives on the world. We plan to work with the creative minds behind this project to get it off the ground in the fall! 

 

Given the success of our pilot program, we’re turning our efforts towards transforming the Ideas Box into a multipurpose community center in Loíza. In this space, community members will have consistent access to programming and technology centered around the arts, culture, entrepreneurship, and STEM. With your continued support, we’ll be able to ensure that this program becomes a fixture of the community in Loíza. 

Links:

Jun 27, 2019

Building a Movement: Support LWB's Work in the US

Launch of Baltimore WALI
Launch of Baltimore WALI

Exciting Updates from Libraries Without Borders!

On behalf of Libraries Without Borders, thank you for your generous donations to our Building a Movement Campaign! We are grateful for your continued support of our work, and would like to share a few updates on our current programs, as well as exciting news about upcoming initiatives. 

 

The Wash and Learn Initiative: Expanding a National Movement 

At present, LWB is running the Wash and Learn Initiative (WALI) in laundromats in eight states across the country. Each WALI site features library programming and is equipped with iPads, computers, books, and arts and crafts materials. At every WALI site, both children and adults have the opportunity to learn new skills from experts in basic, digital, health, and legal literacy, among others topics. 

On June 10th, we launched Baltimore WALI at four laundromats across the city. Check out these videos from the launch to learn more about our work in Baltimore (link below). 

In the months to come, we’ll finalize details on our sites in San Antonio and Oakland, while simultaneously gearing up to launch two new sites in Anoka and Moorhead, Minnesota. 

 

The Ideas Box in Puerto Rico: Using the Arts and STEM to Build Local Capacity 

Following the success of last summer’s pilot program, LWB continues to provide educational and cultural programming with the Ideas Box.  

Through your donations, and with generous support from SONY, we have expanded our pilot in Loíza into a full-year program. This May, we also launched “Empréndete: Loíza,” a series of community-building events that kicked off with the first-ever make-a-thon to take place on the island of Puerto Rico. During this event, residents formed teams that developed their own solutions to local problems. This fall, we plan to provide these creative minds with seed funding to transform their ideas into reality.  

 

The Legal Literacy Initiative: Democratizing Access to Legal Information

In partnership with legal aid providers, local libraries, and nonprofits, we have curated, contextualized, and simplified legal resources to meet the needs of the communities we serve. With oversight from our Legal Literacy Advisory Board, we will continue to provide these communities with a steady stream of relevant and reliable legal information.  

To date, we have Legal Literacy programs in the Washington D.C. area and Providence. In the months to come, we will focus on building partnerships between law libraries and public libraries in order to familiarize branch librarians with legal issues that are common in the communities they serve. 

 

Increasing Rural Literacy Rates: Building on the Success of Wash and Learn  

Building upon the best practices gleaned from the Wash and Learn Initiative, we plan to launch a program that serves residents living in manufactured housing communities (aka “mobile homes”)  in rural areas across the country. The pilot will begin in Fridley, Minnesota, where we have partnered with a local library and a resident-owned, manufactured housing cooperative called the Park Plaza Co-Op. Through this pilot, we will set up iPads, laptops, arts and crafts materials, and a space where residents can participate in library programming inside the co-op’s storm shelter. By working with the library and other community-based organizations, this pilot will provide residents with opportunities to develop basic, digital, health and legal literacy skills. Stay tuned for more updates on this program! 

Links:

 
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