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South Bend awarded grant from Google, Walmart

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The City of South Bend announced a workforce development partnership with the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University on Tuesday. 

The "South Bend Lifelong Learning System" is a three-phase, first-of-its kind project partly funded by a $500,000 grant from Google and Walmart. 

The program's first phase will run through the end of 2018. During the first phase, the Drucker Institute and its partners will talk to people and businesses and identify what they would like to see in this program. If successful, the program will move into a design phase, and in about two years, be marketed and launched across the city. 

A few times every month, Terrance Underwood stops by the St. Joseph County Public Library and uses the computers since he lacks one at home. 

"Check my emails," said Underwood. "When I was looking for a job, I found my job through these computers.”

He said there’s a need though. 

"For some people, they can’t get to a library, who are immobile and who need something really close so people don’t have to travel out of their community to try and do what they need to do," said Underwood. 

The city agreed.

"We’re living in a time of economic change, when people not only need a certain skill set, but skills around skills, and better ways to organize, manage, plan, program, and develop their lifelong learning," said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  

"When people want to know what to buy, they go to Amazon," said Drucker Institute Director of Public Sector Engagement Lawrence Greenspun. "When people want to know to make a social connection they go to Facebook. This is the one-stop shop for learning." 

The initative would essentially be a part physical, part virtual learning environment where users would be connected to education and business opportunities in South Bend based on learning and professional goals. 

"So the 3rd grader who said ‘I want to be an astronaut’, might get a hit, or email, a shot that says ‘Hey! The South Bend Code School is teaching to 3rd and 4th graders, which might be an important skill in your ambition of achieving your dream of becoming an astronaut," said Greenspun. 

Underwood likes the idea and said it gives more access for people to learn new technology that may be critical for their current or future jobs. 

“They have to learn something to know how to do something," said Underwood. "If there’s nobody doing it, then we won’t have this. It’s just that simple. You have to train people to keep them making the things that we do."

The grant covers phase one of the project. If the project moves forward, the city and Drucker Institute will look for more grant funding. 

 

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