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Learning to Use the Internet Gave Wendell Robinson a New Life

Workforce Development Center Client Profile

The Chicago Urban League’s Workforce Development Center partners with Comcast to offer our clients Internet Essentials, a program that provides low-cost, high-speed Internet service to low-income households.

In October 2018, Wendell Robinson was one of 50 League clients who received a new laptop and Internet service through the Comcast program.

A year later, Robinson says that laptop along with the skills he learned at the Chicago Urban League have helped give him a new life.

Listen to Wendell talk about his experience in his own words.

What brought you to the Chicago Urban League?

I served more than 25 years in prison for crimes that happened when I was 17 years old. While inside, an older guy took me under his wings. He gave me books to read and would later ask me about things in the books. So I had to read them. He also encouraged me to take advantage of any classes that were offered, and I did. Inside, I heard other guys talk about the Chicago Urban League, and I knew one guy who had gotten out of prison and was able to get a job as a truck driver after going through a program at the League. That planted the idea for me that I wanted to pursue my CDL (commercial driver’s license) and become a truck driver. I was ready to take advantage of any opportunity that was going to help me achieve that goal. So, when I was released in January 2018, I came straight to the Chicago Urban League.

 

What support did you receive from the Chicago Urban League?

I went through several programs. I got my CDL, and I did the solar energy jobs training program. I took the Digital Empowerment and Success Strategies workshops, which helped me prepare for and search for a job. That included learning to use a computer. In prison, I had no access to computers for more than 25 years. So, I literally had to learn how to turn one on. It was all new to me. Sometimes people don’t want to try new things, and that can be a barrier, but I was interested in whatever would help me become acclimated. The facilitators at the League were patient with me. They wanted me to succeed. I learned how to send emails, how to attach documents to emails and how to use social media. Learning so many things opened up opportunities and gave me a new life.

 

What are you doing now?

After completing programs at the Chicago Urban League, I went through a program at Restore Justice, an organization that advocates for fairness, humanity and compassion throughout the criminal justice system in Illinois. I am now a project manager there. I use the laptop I received from Comcast every day. I keep it in my car with me wherever I go. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do the work I do now.

Partner Response from Comcast 

“Wendell is a great example of determination and dedication, and we’re honored to help support him with the tools he needs to succeed in our digital economy,” said James Sledge, Comcast’s vice president of State Government Affairs.

“Partnerships with non-profit organizations have been crucial to Internet Essentials’ success and Comcast’s efforts to close the digital divide. From the beginning, the Chicago Urban League has been an integral part of our campaign to increase digital access. We’re proud to partner with the Chicago Urban League on Internet Essentials and to provide digital literacy and workforce training to help all Chicagoans harness the power of the Internet and other technologies.”