The lab comes from a $6 million federal emergency education fund and was directed to USC campuses and Benedict College by Governor McMaster.
SUMTER, S.C. — The University of South Carolina – Sumter will soon have desktop computers, iPads, laptops, and more available to anyone who needs them – free of charge – as part of a multi-million dollar federal relief fund meant to combat “broadband deserts.”
“It can be an all-encompassing space for the community which they have not had in the past,” said Kelsie Decker. “It offers services to the community free of charge and everyone able to come in”.
Decker is the iCarolina Lab coordinator for USC Sumter.
The $6 million in funding was directed to the University of South Carolina by Governor Henry McMaster through Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) funds reserved from the CARES Act.
In partnership with Benedict College, the money went to several areas in South Carolina that are all located within fifteen miles or less of a broadband desert, where highspeed access is difficult or impossible to get.
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Decker added that she hopes it will provide education to anyone willing to walk in.
“This technology is for them, you don’t need to necessarily make appointments, we can take walk-ins,” she said. “Twenty desktop computers, 20 laptops, 20 iPads with pencils, you also have four Apple TVs. So, we have a plethora of products for people to use and devices to use, and, honestly, I think it’s more than enough,”.
Residents in the area like Bridgit Donovan and Savannah Racey are excited to have the lab in their area.
“I feel like it’s a really good opportunity for our community because some people don’t have internet access and it gives them an opportunity to do their work,” Racey said. “It works for anybody like high schoolers, college students, I mean, you can just go there study and work – do whatever you have to do. It’s just a good place.”
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Decker added it’s a place with additional potential.
“It honestly can bring in anyone from our community who has a special skill and then can teach, and I think that’s something that’s amazing to this space.”
If you are interested in checking out the library’s new computer lab, it is located on the second floor of the Anderson Library Building on USC Sumter’s campus. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays free of charge.