AT&T’s Foundation is making a $33,000 to a PC and Internet training program in Raleigh as part of the launch for ultra-fast Internet access known as the North Carolina Next Generation Network. The City of Raleigh’s “Digital Connectors” program is receiving the money.

The donation was announced Saturday morning as the first community center was brought online in the Next Generation Network, or NCNGN (pronounced NC-engine). The network promises Internet speeds up to 1 gigabit – hundreds times faster than cable TV access.

Young people trained in the Digital Connectors program will in turn help senior citizens learn how tou better use computers and the Internet.

Several community centers are being linked to NCNGN by AT&T at no charge as part of the network project. The first sites are

The money will be used for training in what the city calls “digital literacy.”

The first sites are at the Tarboro Road Community Center and the Saint Monica Teen Center at 121 Tarboro Street.

“Advanced technology has been the catalyst for change in our world because of what it enables people to do,” said North Carolina AT&T President Venessa Harrison in announcing the donation.

“We are excited to support the Digital Connectors program because, not only is it connecting generations, but it is expanding horizons and opening new opportunities for seniors and for the young adults who are their instructors in this new digital world.”

The City of Raleigh launched Digital Connectors in 2010. The program is designed to train young people between the ages of 14 and 21. Areas of focus include:

  • Leadership & Diversity
  • Personal Development
  • Workforce Development
  • Financial Literacy
  • Community Mapping
  • Digital Literacy
  • Coding
  • Open Data Principles
  • Environmentalism and Sustainability
  • Civic Journalism
  • Service and Global Engagement
  • Teaching and Facilitation

Youth involved in the program agree to provide 60 hours of community service.

“Over the past five years, 103 Digital Connectors have helped nearly 3,000 people become members of today’s digital society,” said Gail Roper, chiefiInformation officer for the City of Raleigh. (She also launched Digital Connector program.)

“Through this multigenerational approach, , we have seen a sense of understanding and appreciation grow between the Connectors and the seniors whom they have taught. The program is helping build a culture that embraces technology and civic engagement. We are excited about the impact the program has already had in the community and look forward to the difference it will make in the future.”

AT&T is building the network across the Triangle and parts of the Triad in partnership with several municipalities and four universities. A key requirement for the new network was that the provider enable access in urban and other areas where high-speed Internet access has been limited. AT&T also is committed to providing Wi-Fi services.

AT&T is in the process of deploying a fiber network across parts of the Triangle with its “GigaPower” Internet service already available in several areas.

Google Fiber plans to deploy a fiber network in the Triangle in coming months. Fiber-optic service also is available in parts of Durham and Durham County from Frontier Communications.

Time Warner Cable recently announced plans to boost Internet speeds but has made no announcements regarding any fiber deployments.

As part of its agreement with the NCNGN consortium, AT&T agreed to bring fiber-optic Internet access at no charge to several community centers in Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem. In recent months, AT&T has worked with NCNGN’s partners to map out where the network would run and which community centers would be among the first to be connected.

The NCNGN consortium also includes UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, Duke University and Wake Forest University.

Speakers include: Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Councilor Eugene Weeks, AT&T North Carolina President Venessa Harrison, and North Carolina State Representative Yvonne Holley.

Also at the event, the group called Raleigh Digital Connectors will provide basic computer and Internet access training.

The NCNGN chose AT&T last year for the project after reviewing responses and plans submitted by various providers based on a “request for proposal.”