August 14, 2016
Just two hours outside of futuristic Silicon Valley, the county of Fresno, California, looks like a time capsule from the 1970s. Beyond the prom dress shops with their cartoonish window paintings, the vacant lots, and the brutalist AT&T building that seems to lack windows, you’ll find the Parc Grove Commons housing projects. Inside the community room, 45 adult students are learning about the internet. On this sunny summertime Thursday, every single student has shown up to class.
Today, they’re learning about email. “Instead of putting mail in an envelope and waiting a couple of days, you can send a message instantly,” explains the teacher, John Gonzalez. An older student responds with delight: “Oooooh.” At the end of the nine-week class—organized by the Fresno Housing Authority and California State University (CSU), Fresno’s Office of Community & Economic Development—students with perfect attendance will earn an HP laptop.