Op-Ed: A community space for the Digital Age moves into the neighborhood Special

Posted Sep 21, 2014 by Jonathan Farrell
With technology advancing, there still is the issue of the 'Digital Divide' where access to the Internet and other services are limited. With the help of City College of San Francisco, Coleman Advocates for Children and others,
Digital Action Hub is an off-shoot of SMAC - Students Making A Change  founded in 2010 through City ...
Digital Action Hub is an off-shoot of SMAC - Students Making A Change, founded in 2010 through City College of San Francisco.
Courtesy SMAC / Lena Carew
The Excelsior and Ingleside Districts of San Francisco will have new connection called Digital Action Hub. "It's really a community space, said founder and coordinator Lena Carew. "It is not so much about computers and space it is really about a resource, she said; a way for the community to connect, not just to technology but to one another."
She mentioned that she and her associates have been working at developing a co-working space, geared towards the neighborhood, addressing its needs and recognizing its abilities.
Carew sees herself as a "technologist as well as an innovator-creator" and is eager to invite innovators, technology and basically 'visionaries' who can envision the future and help to meet needs. "Our initial focus is students, schools and the youth. Yet, I can see there is a need for the entire community" she said; as many people from various walks of life have limited access to technology and current trends.
Digital Action Hub has close ties to City College through the non-profit group SMAC - Students Making A Change grew out of that collective, "sort of an organic evolution," she said. Carew has been diligent to get the word out and gain support for his endeavor On the SMAC Facebook page Carew announced the coming debut of Digital Action Hub.
As she posted, "we aim to provide learning opportunities in the areas of computer science, technology and innovation; to low-income and working class youth and students, parents and teachers, and local entrepreneurs in the Excelsior (and Ingleside) neighborhood."
The challenges of bringing the latest in technology and access of resources to a community facing obstacles is not new. "Bringing people together is perhaps most important because people and their skills are the real resources not just equipment, work or an office space," said Carew. This is perhaps the most crucial to the success and longevity of any outreach. This is why she seeks to include entrepreneurs in the process.
Samantha Liapes, Development Director and Communications Coordinator for the community organization, Coleman Advocates for Children has no doubt that Carew will succeed. “I’ve worked with Lena since 2010 when she was hired (while still a student) as the first Coordinator of the newly formed Students Making a Change program at City College of San Francisco.” “That was a project of Coleman Advocates,” Liapes added.
“I think the Digital Action Hub is an innovative concept that fills a clear need in the Excelsior/Ingleside District, said Liapes. “The Excelsior is one of the few remaining neighborhoods in San Francisco with a large percentage of working class immigrant and other families of color.”
“It’s also located in the district with the least historical investment from the City in workforce development resources and programs,” Liapes said. “And, she added, there is no project at all similar to this currently in the Excelsior.” “We are excited for Coleman’s student and parent members to have access to such a cutting edge resource.” “We look forward to our members utilizing the resource Lena has championed to develop skills and knowledge that will help them achieve their educational and professional goals.” “We also hope that such a program will help increase the odds of securing living wage work so that they can afford to stay and thrive in San Francisco,” Liapes said.
Lena Carew spoke very highly of Dr. Faye McPhail Naples, Ed.D. who she views as a mentor. Dr. Naples talked with this reporter while on assignment for The Ingleside Light newspaper. She serves as the Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Engagement at City College of San Francisco.
This will be the home of Digital Action Hub.  We re still in the process of upgrading the space   sa...
This will be the home of Digital Action Hub. "We're still in the process of upgrading the space," said founder/coordinator Lena Carew. She is hoping that the paint, electrical, etc. will all be done soon. "As of now, we should be up and running by October."
Courtesy of Lena Carew / Digital Action Hub
Dr. Naples described Carew as "a phenomenal young woman committed to social justice." "Lena is profoundly dedicated in the work she does, especially when it has to do with community and educational projects like Digital Action Hub," said Dr. Naples.
Dr. Naples, a graduate of University of California at Los Angeles, is a distinguished leader in the field of education, especially within the community college system. Naples recognizes Carew's qualities and believes that Carew will achieve the goals to make Digital Action Hub a success.
"Lena is committed to the project and to students, Lena has invested a lot of her own time and resources apart from her regular job," said Naples. "For as long as I have known Lena she is the type of person who will work two and three jobs or work and go to school at the same time, just to achieve a goal she believes in." Naples also noted that Carew is working to obtain non-profit status for Digital Action Hub, something that is not always that easy to do.
"I see this Digital Action Hub project as very exciting and positive for the Excelsior/Ingleside neighborhood," said Naples. "Part of the challenge will be how to get the tech industry interested and involved, especially with the students and the community."
"What the project really needs are some 'angel investors,' said Naples." And, I think that is very possible given the fact that the tech industry pioneers are here in the San Francisco area and are thriving.
When asked about the situation with City College's struggle with the Accreditation, and if that will be an obstacle? She said candidly,” City College is moving forward, is open and enrolling." "And, while this situation has been a shock and upset many, the SF community has been strongly supportive of City College."
"The outpouring and tremendous support from the community has been profound." "I am hoping that once Digital Action Hub gets settled into the neighborhood, it will provide a connection for students to the community through service-learning." "I am hoping to get more CCSF students involved in community activities and to encourage opportunities for service as well as jobs."
“The fact that the project is being developed by young people who have lived in and gone to school in the neighborhood, said Liapes, makes the program even more exciting.” “The young people are directly affected by the problems in our community and they should be the ones empowered to create the solutions.”
“Coleman has supported Lena with her resource development strategy, Liapes said, and has also supported her to develop her business plan.”
For more information about Digital Action Hub visit the page of Facebook