Concilio, known as Philadelphia’s oldest Spanish Speaking Latino non-profit, kicked off their brand-new media lab with a grand opening on July 13th.
To the sound of live music and conversations, around 15 people gathered, in the Hunting Park neighborhood, for the inauguration. Amongst the guests were sponsors, representatives, facilitators, and teachers from Esperanza Charter School.
The idea of finding funding for a new media lab came because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Many businesses had to step up their technology to function day to day, including ours. How do you think the community was feeling? They didn’t even have access to buy brand new computers, update their internet or increase their bandwidth,” says Concilio’s Deputy Director Janessa Rivera.
According to Rivera, before the pandemic, the nonprofit had outdated computers that needed to be serviced, with some completely non-functional. In August 2020, Concilio’s Director Adonis Banegas decided they had to cover the community’s need for a space that not only provided digital literacy and resources; but also, where children could explore career paths, and entrepreneurs could learn how to brand themselves.
Back then, the biggest concern for Rivera was how to “convert a regular space into an entertainment media space and bring in the appropriate equipment.” But just ahead of summer 2021, the media lab was able to be fully flipped, with new floors, soundproof boards, a green screen, laptops, desktop computers, cameras, internet and more, sponsored by Comcast, PECO, and UPS.
“We want it to be a similar idea like a community library. You might not go there daily or all the time, but you know that if you need to go for one thing or the other [it] is right there in your backyard,” Rivera explained.
Now, Concilio has divided the media center into two rooms. One has six laptops, equipped with all programs needed for editing; the other has filming equipment, a green screen, and two desktop computers for people to be able to edit on two screens.
Although the idea is for community members, small business owners, and other nonprofits to be able to use these resources; the main goal is to teach community children about digital literacy and how to use technology as a future career path. For that, Esperanza’s teacher had already given crash courses on the topic and will continue to help produce content in one room, so it can be processed just next door.
Because Concilio already runs other community programs, Rivera estimates that, this year alone, around 400 people —without counting walk-in community members or organizations, will immediately benefit from the media lab.
On June 28th, they started a summer “soft pilot,” that will run until August 6th, where 80 middle schools and high schoolers are already learning how to produce digital content, such as videos, blogs, and podcasts.
In addition to the children in the summer program, Concilio’s media lab will benefit kids in the nonprofit after school program by teaching 50 middle schoolers and 25 high schoolers about digital literacy. Likewise, through their anti-gun violence program, 75 community members will be using the space to record their advocacy campaigns.
To top that off, Janessa Rivera says the organization is getting ready to open a fall program aimed towards workforce development. The initiative will be directed to 50 people ages 14-24. In a six-session training, the participants will learn how to edit video, brand themselves, look for jobs, and work one on one with a job counselor on resume writing and mock interviewing. To apply for this, or any other programs, call 215-627-3100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.