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$20,000 grant funds computer training for homeless

June 10, 2011

A recently awarded $20,000 grant from the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation will enable Loyola University New Orleans psychology alumnus Corey Phillips ‘11 and university curriculum developer Brad Petitfils to continue teaching computer literacy to homeless residents at the Ozanam Inn.

“The computer literacy program at the Ozanam Inn is providing a vital service to the community and to the homeless population of New Orleans,” said Erin Dupuis, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology. “Levels of illiteracy in New Orleans are well above the national average and 36 percent of adults in the city do not use the Internet.”

Prior to receiving the grant, Phillips had been shuttling the learners from the Ozanam Inn to Loyola, where the classes took place. The grant will fund the purchase of 10 new computers for the Ozanam Inn, along with software and a charging cabinet, so that classes can be taught on site and residents can practice their computer skills more easily. This arrangement also provides a permanent location for Loyola student service learners to interact with residents of the inn. Dupuis and Phillips were awarded the grant and will use some of the funding to present data pertaining to the effects of computer literacy on mental and physical health at a conference.

“Not only are we providing the opportunity to increase computer literacy and much needed job skills, we are also finding that the program increases self-esteem and perceived control,” said Dupuis.

The residents are taught for six to eight weeks, and at the end of the course, they receive a certificate of completion in computer literacy from Loyola’s Office of the Provost. The computer program will begin regular lab hours this summer.

For more information, contact Dupuis at edupuis@loyno.edu or call (504)865-3133.

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