U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced a new digital literacy initiative on Friday that works to expand economic and educational opportunities in America.

Locke joined U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., and U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., in unveiling www.DigitalLiteracy.gov.

The new website provides libraries, community colleges, schools, and workforce training centers a variety of resources and tools for teaching computer and Internet skills.

According to recent studies, these kinds of “community anchor institutions” have become increasingly necessary for success in today’s economy.

The new website announcement was made during a visit to a public computer center at Coppin State University.

Prior to the unveiling, Locke and the senators toured a computer lab and witnessed first-hand how the people in the community are utilizing this website, which can allow any person to find free training on a range of digital literacy topics, at different skill levels, including searching and applying for jobs online.

“In a globalized, 21st century economy, when you don’t have regular access to the high-speed Internet – and the skills to use it – your education, business, and employment opportunities are narrowed,” Locke said. “The tools we are unveiling today will help more Americans gain valuable job skills and augment the Recovery Act investments we are making to expand broadband access and adoption nationwide.”

In partnership with nine federal agencies, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) created DigitalLiteracy.gov to provide librarians, teachers, workforce trainers, and others a central location to share digital literacy content and best practices.

These trusted groups can, in turn, better reach out to their communities in providing them the skills today’s employers need.

NTIA also is partnering with the American Library Association and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to promote the use of the portal by the nation’s more than 16,600 public libraries where, in 2009, more than 30 million job seekers used computers to search and apply for jobs.

In launching DigitalLiteracy.gov, NTIA is building on knowledge gained from managing its broadband grants program in order to provide digital literacy resources to all Americans.

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