Wolf Administration Highlights Library Expansion Funding, Discusses Broadband Limitations for Students

Brownsville, PA – Today, Department of Community and Economic Development Deputy Secretary of Community Affairs and Development Rick Vilello and Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives Sheri Collins visited the Brownsville Free Public Library to celebrate the expansion of its building to offer students and the community a space to gather and collaborate with access to educational resources through $137,500 in Neighborhood Assistance Program funding.

“We are proud to join the Brownsville Free Public Library in celebrating this expansion, and even more proud of the students who showed such initiative when they recognized that a space like this was needed,” said DCED Deputy Secretary Vilello. “Their efforts will see long-term benefits for people of all ages in the community.”

Nearly a million Pennsylvanians today lack access to robust, reliable, high-speed internet. According to a report published last year from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, internet connectivity speeds are substantially slower in rural counties than urban ones. Due to the cost of broadband infrastructure, local municipalities cannot fund the purchase and installation of that infrastructure themselves.

The Brownsville Students In Action (SIA) is a student-led service leadership group started through a partnership with Multiplying Good responsible for bridging the gap between the school and community. As part of their service project, the SIA team performed an assessment that showed low academic achievement and a lack of social opportunities for teens in Brownsville, and as such proposed expanding the Brownsville Free Public Library to include a teen center. The 750-square-foot addition to the building will offer a critically-needed gathering space for teens and community members.

“The Brownsville Students In Action team has exhibited excellence in service by investigating the needs of their community and using the skills they’ve learned in SIA to execute high-quality solutions to those needs,” said Executive Director of Multiplying Good Pennsylvania Jodi Klebick. “Their focus and commitment to improving the quality of life for their community members is extraordinary and rare.”

NAP projects complement the priorities set forth by the administration to improve infrastructure and communities across the commonwealth through the Restore Pennsylvania initiative. Restore Pennsylvania, the $4.5 billion bipartisan proposal funded through a commonsense severance tax, will aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs and is the only plan to make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century. The plan would further bolster community improvement efforts like those currently being invested in through NAP and would help address vacant land and blighted areas across the commonwealth.

“As broadband limitations continue to impact us across the commonwealth, it’s inspiring to see the younger generation taking action and acknowledging that improvements are crucial for themselves, their friends, and families,” said Executive Director Collins. “Everyone deserves to have this kind of access for educational and recreational purposes.”

The NAP grant was made possible through assistance from UPMC which provided $250,000 in donations toward the project.

“UPMC Health Plan is pleased to provide funding for this project so that all teens in the Brownsville community can enjoy a safe, state-of-the-art recreational space at the Brownsville Library,” said Scott Lammie, Senior Vice President of Business Development at UPMC Health Plan. “We are so impressed by the Brownsville Students in Action and their commitment to the wellbeing of their community and know that both current and future generations will enjoy this incredible facility.”

Learn more about what critical infrastructure could be fixed in your community with Restore Pennsylvania.

For more information about the Wolf Administration’s commitment to community development or DCED, visit the DCED website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
J.J. Abbott, Governor’s Office, 717.783.1116
Casey Smith, DCED, 717.783.1132

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