Loíza, Puerto Rico (October 21, 2021) Yesterday, Libraries Without Borders US (LWB US), in partnership with Link Puerto Rico (LinkPR), the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), and local leaders in Loíza, kicked off the much anticipated “De Puente a Puente” initiative. This grassroots community engagement and connectivity program will provide residents of La 23, Tocones/Colobó and Piñones with access to reliable, high-speed Internet via neighborhood connectivity hubs and wireless mesh networks installed at three community centers. Support from the National Science Foundation (Award # CNS-2044448) has made “De Puente a Puente” possible.
The kickoff event took place at the newly renovated La 23 Community Center in Loíza, Puerto Rico. LWB US worked closely with program partners, local leaders, and community members to transform this space into a connectivity hub for residents of all ages and digital literacy levels. During the event, attendees interacted with the community leaders that made the space possible, as well as learned about upcoming courses on digital and health literacy available to them at the center.
“This isn’t just a place where people can connect to high-speed Internet or access technology, it’s a place where residents can come together, build trust, develop solutions to the problems most relevant to their lives, and work toward promoting the wellbeing of their community,” José “Moreno” Sánchez, Project Coordinator
By installing off-the-shelf wireless hotspots, laptops, and other electronic devices, engaging in collaborative, community-led placemaking efforts, and providing residents with capacity-building activities and tools, LWB US quickly and effectively deployed a digital inclusion intervention that aligns with community needs and interests.
“This isn’t just a place where people can connect to high-speed Internet or access technology, it’s a place where residents can come together, build trust, develop solutions to the problems most relevant to their lives, and work toward promoting the wellbeing of their community,” said Project Coordinator, José “Moreno” Sánchez, tasked with spearheading the initiative since May 2021.
LWB US was selected as a Project OVERCOME grant recipient in March 2021. The Project OVERCOME grant provided awards to seven communities in an effort designed to connect the unconnected through novel broadband technology solutions. US Ignite managed the selection process and now oversees these projects along with multiple efforts to connect the benefits of emerging technology with some of our communities most challenging needs.
“Through Project OVERCOME we intended to offer communities with connectivity challenges an opportunity to quickly and efficiently test connection solutions,” said the Director of Community Development at US Ignite, Lee Davenport. “However, we know that “De Puente A Puente” offers much more than an Internet connection. It empowers the Loiza residents – from youngest to oldest – to take an active role in improving their community.”
LWB US invites Loíza residents, local nonprofits, foundations, community-based organizations, to learn more about “De Puente a Puente” and to visit the community centers. For more information, please contact José “Moreno” Sánchez at [email protected] or Alex Aldarondo at [email protected], and visit librarieswithoutborders.us/puente-a-puente.
About Libraries Without Borders US:
Libraries Without Borders US (LWB US) is a non-profit organization that delivers access to information, education, and cultural resources, with a particular emphasis on serving communities subject to systemic discrimination. From laundromats in Baltimore to community centers in Puerto Rico, LWB US designs innovative tools and programs that meet people where they are, providing the resources they need most. Libraries Without Borders US (LWB US) is the US branch of Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF).
About Link Puerto Rico:
Link Puerto Rico is a Puerto Rican organization that empowers individuals through the facilitation of initiatives and knowledge in technology- and entrepreneurship-related fields with the end goal of creating and developing resilient, sustainable, and innovative communities. Since its founding in 2017, Link Puerto Rico has worked tirelessly on its mission to empower anyone to create high impact solutions through experiential education platforms, the facilitation of technological resources, and community support.
About Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC):
The Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) is a nationwide, volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2008 to provide communities with the technical resources necessary to continue operations and begin recovery after a disaster.
About US Ignite:
US Ignite is a high-tech nonprofit with a mission to accelerate the smart community movement. Our public-private partnership programs leverage advanced networking and data science to drive key outcomes for communities. Our work also enables new opportunities for wireless and IoT research designed to help narrow the gap between cutting‐edge experimentation and scalable, real‐world technology deployments. For more information, visit www.us-ignite.org.