From Panasonic's Joseph Taylor: Addressing the Digital Divide in Newark

Photo: Joseph M. Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Panasonic North America Photo Credit: Courtesy Panasonic
Joseph M. Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Panasonic North America | Courtesy Panasonic

[Joseph M. Taylor is chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corporation of North America. This contribution was written as part of our Story of the Year 2016: Newark’s Tech Renaissance.]

We should all be pleased to see more technology companies either starting up in Newark or relocating and putting down roots here. This is a great thing for the city, and it holds out the promise of future high-tech employment for Newark’s children. But at the same time, we ought to consider how ready the children will be to take on positions that demand a high degree of skills in math and the sciences if they don’t have the opportunity to become digitally savvy and feel at home with technology at an early age, as do children in more privileged areas.

As a step toward bridging the growing digital divide in Newark and providing greater access to technology and training through after-school academic enrichment, Panasonic Corporation of North America recently joined Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to become the anchor funder of NAN-Newark Tech World, which will serve as a high-tech community center for the City of Newark. 

Photo: Newark and national civil rights and community leaders gathered to announce NAN-Newark Tech World, including: Pastor David Jefferson, Reverend Al Sharpton, Panasonic NA CEO Joe Taylor, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Newark Councilwoman-at-large Mildred Crump, Pastor Steffie Bartley and Councilman John Sharpe James. Photo Credit: Courtesy Panasonic
Newark and national civil rights and community leaders gathered to announce NAN-Newark Tech World, including: Pastor David Jefferson, Reverend Al Sharpton, Panasonic NA CEO Joe Taylor, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Newark Councilwoman-at-large Mildred Crump, Pastor Steffie Bartley and Councilman John Sharpe James. | Courtesy Panasonic

NAN-Newark Tech World will offer courses in Web and graphic design, music production, digital literacy, computer networking and more. It will operate in the building once occupied by the Boys & Girls Club in Newark’s South Ward, an area of focus for revitalization efforts. Students will be able to go to this Internet and computer-based IT training facility after school to take classes or use Panasonic technology to complete their schoolwork. 

Students in communities like Newark’s South Ward are greatly impacted by the digital divide, and struggle to compete for top educational opportunities and then for higher-paying jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.  I firmly believe that making technology more easily accessible to them at an early age could have a real impact on their lives and career opportunities, as well as contributing to the revitalization of all the neighborhoods in this city.

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