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Chicago Public Schools, Microsoft, United Way team up to provide ‘digital literacy’

 Chicago Public Schools CEO BarbarByrd-Bennett announces with Mayor Emanuel 12 new Parent Engagement Centers helping parents learn digital technology

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announces with Mayor Emanuel, 12 new Parent Engagement Centers, helping parents learn the digital and technology skills to support their children's learning, at the Arthur Libby School 5300 S. Loomis. Monday, November 19, 2012. I Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 19, 2012 7:36PM

Mary Ann Moore-Lockhart says her two sisters didn’t know a mouse “is not something you catch in a trap’’ until they got computer training at a new Parent Engagement Center at Chicago’s Libby School.

The center is helping her sisters and others sharpen their digital skills and break down the digital divide, Moore-Lockhart, a Libby parent and a Libby School clerk, told reporters Monday.

Moore-Lockhart joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a news conference to announce that Libby’s center at 5300 S. Loomis Blvd. is part of a new effort by Chicago Public Schools, Microsoft, United Way and others to offer parents and their children free “digital literacy’’ help before and after school, as well as during summer school and on some Saturdays.

Eight other centers opened this school year: at Armstrong, Cameron, Chase, Kohn, Lloyd, Marsh, May-Horatio and Oglesby. Others are expected by spring in Burroughs, Davis and Shields.

Each Parent Engagement Center will have at least one coordinator and six desktop computers fully loaded with Microsoft Windows and Office, as well as Microsoft’s Digital Literacy Curriculum, available in more than 30 languages, officials said. United Way is helping fund and coordinate the human help to kids and parents.

The centers are located in mostly South and West Side schools that are part of a Community Schools initiative, United Way officials said. Community schools stay open longer to offer both kids and adults extra services and support.

Some centers also may offer kids tutoring while their parents are learning the kind of digital skills that are second-nature to many students. As a result, Emanuel said, the centers are “making sure there is no divide between home and school.’’

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