• By Todd Luck
  • Posted Wednesday, June 12, 2019

WinstonNet Receives $50,000 From Wells Fargo for New Computer Lab Wi-Fi

WinstonNet received $50,000 from Wells Fargo to replace the Wi-Fi in all 25 of its labs in Winston-Salem.

WinstonNet is a non-profit that’s been devoted to bridging the local digital divide for the last two decades. Forsyth County government is a member of WinstonNet, which provides Computer Training Bridge classes at county libraries that teach things like basic computer skills and creating resumes.

The grant will allow for the replacement of the nine year-old Wi-Fi in the computer labs at 18 city recreation centers, Winston Lake YMCA, Gateway YWCA, Habitat for Humanity and several churches. The new Wi-Fi is expected to be in the labs later this year.

Wells Fargo Community Affairs Officer Peggy Reingold said this project was selected to receive a grant because of the impact it will have.

“This particular one we felt had such a major impact on the under-resourced areas of our community that this one gift of $50,000 would have a ripple effect in the community,” said Reingold.

Even in the age of smartphones, the labs’ Wi-Fi is still in high demand. The Wi-Fi in WinstonNet labs has had over 5 million connections in the last three years. Limited data plans force many people to rely on public Wi-Fi for their internet access.

“Even around the buildings at night, after they close, we have people going there with their smartphones because they don’t have an unlimited data plan,” said WinstonNet Executive Director Lynda Goff. “They go by these areas and use the Wi-Fi right outside the door.”

Overall, 16 percent of households in Forsyth County do not have internet of any kind, including cell phones. In some lower income neighborhoods 40 percent, and sometimes as high as 80-90 percent, don’t have internet access of any kind.

For information about WinstonNet labs and computer training, visit www.winstonnet.org.

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