The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) held an open house to celebrate and show off an upgrade to its San Francisco technology center at Mission Graduates, a result of the organization's ongoing partnership with Facebook.

Mission Graduates is a nonprofit organization focused on helping prepare students from kindergarten to 12th grade for college. The organization is supported by LULAC, one of the oldest American Latino anti-discrimination organizations, which runs a technology center in San Francisco to provide the resources students need to compete and participate in the modern economy.

The Empower Hispanic America with Technology (EHAT) initiative focuses on closing the so-called "digital divide," or the gap in access to technological resources experienced by underserved Latino communities.

Technology Center Upgraded

On Monday, LULAC celebrated a major upgrade to its technology center as part of its ongoing partnership with Facebook, holding an open house to show off EHAT's new digital tools.

"With the support of Facebook, LULAC will continue to ensure that the Latino community in San Francisco has access to up to date technology," wrote LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha Jr. in a release by the organization, "which will allow Latino students to compete at a level playing field."

The upgrades to the LULAC technology center include new desktop computers with office software installed and high speed Internet connection. Without access to those tools, students are more likely to fall behind in school work. Such technology is also vital for participation in the modern economy.

Digital Divide Challenges Immigrants

As Latin Post previously reported, recent immigrants and low-income Latinos in particular face the challenges of the digital divide, at best achieving underconnected status.

A full 41 percent of immigrant parents only had access to the Internet through mobile devices, according to a recent Pew study, while 44 percent of immigrant Latino parents reported that they did not access computers, even occasionally, at work, home or at school. Another 42 percent of low-income Latino parents said they had no home Internet access, while 40 percent didn't own a computer. A large majority reported that connections and equipment were simply too expensive.

LULAC, Facebook Celebrate New Center

The upgraded technology center will help Mission Graduates generate a college-ready culture among the underserved Latino population in the San Francisco area.

"We're proud of our partnership with LULAC and thrilled to support its mission to advance technology education for the Hispanic community," said Facebook Community Engagement Director Susan Gonzales.

"Exposure to technology is critical to the development of our local youth, and through our support for the Mission Community Beacon program, we can encourage students to explore careers in computer science and engineering," she added. The Community Beacon program is a public-private partnership Facebook participates in that also invests in technology for underserved communities.

Mission Graduates celebrated the development, saying the upgrade would not only help students, but parents as well.

Eric Cuentos, the organization's Parent Partner program director, stated, "By helping Mission Community Beacon families build skills and confidence with technology, we are able to empower parents and students to better leverage online tools to support academic success and development of 21st Century skills."