August 03, 2020 The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire

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First Union and Partners Launch eCommunitiesFirst Alliance TO Close the Digital Divide

Submitted by: First Union Corporation

Categories: Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions

Posted: Aug 29, 2000 – 12:00 AM EST


Initiative will increase computer access and training

Aug. 29 /CSRwire/ - First Union Corporation and its community partners today officially launched an initiative to help at-risk individuals in Charlotte gain the skills needed to compete in today's technology-driven marketplace.

First Union developed this initiative, called eCommunitiesFirst, to address the “digital divide,” an alarming national trend that leaves individuals who lack access to computers and the Internet and the ability to use this technology at a disadvantage in pursuing education, jobs and financial goals.

eCommunitiesFirst has two main components. First, the partners are offering free training classes for anyone interested in learning how to use computers and the Internet. Second, the partners will focus on increasing information technology access and skills among targeted community groups, including lower-income individuals, minorities, youth and senior citizens.

"The eCommunitiesFirst alliance is a natural fit for First Union," said Ken Thompson, First Union's president and chief executive officer. "It combines the best elements of our leadership position in e-commerce and our long-standing commitment to education, volunteerism and community development. We're excited to work with so many local partners to make this vision a reality."

First Union's eChannels team manages the training component of eCommunitiesFirst. Interested community members or groups can sign up for classes at one of four learning centers in Charlotte. The main Center is located in the First Union eChannels facility at South Tryon Square, and three satellite centers are operated by community partners at University Park Baptist Church, Belvedere Homes and UJAMMA.

The training curriculum includes three courses: Introduction to Personal Computers, Internet Basics and Basic Money Management. The classes are open to any interested community members at no charge. First Union employee volunteers and community volunteers will staff the Virtual Learning Centers during and after business hours.

"eCommunitiesFirst is a critical part of First Union's e-commerce retail strategy," said David Carroll, executive vice president of First Union's eCommerce Division. "Closing the digital divide means offering everyone in our community a chance to learn to use today's information technology. We also hope this alliance enables many current and future customers to use alternative delivery channels for financial services."

In addition to First Union support, the City of Charlotte is also providing $20,000 towards the program.

First Union is also partnering with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to provide greater computer access and training for students as part of eCommunitiesFirst. The company is donating computers and providing training to help increase student achievement and proficiency.

“Beginning this year a student cannot graduate without passing the N.C. Computer Skills Competency Test,” said Superintendent Dr. Eric Smith. “We know that family involvement is critical to student success. eCommunitiesFirst will give families access and training which will allow them to support their children’s educational endeavors. We are always thrilled when First Union is able to partner with us to make our goal of providing the best educational opportunities for our students a reality.”

In addition to the school system, First Union has collaborated with more than 15 community organizations to create eCommunitiesFirst, including the City of Charlotte’s Community Development Division, the Charlotte Housing Authority, BDPA-Information Technology Thought Leaders, UJAMMA and University Park Baptist Church. These partners are providing resources and helping reach the members of the community who can benefit from the program.

“UJAMMA focuses on creating wealth by increasing homeownership and offering homebuyers counseling," said Jackie Walton, executive director of UJAMMA, Inc. "Through eCommunitiesFirst, we will bring this powerful learning opportunity to countless Charlotte residents who want to compete more effectively in the marketplace and improve their financial future."

First Union plans to work with other communities to introduce the eCommunitiesFirst program in other cities in future months. To find out more about eCommunitiesFirst, call (704) 383-2144.

First Union (NYSE:FTU), with $258 billion in assets and stockholders' equity of $14 billion at June 30, 2000, is a leading provider of financial services to 15 million retail and corporate customers throughout the East Coast and the nation. The company operates full-service banking offices in 12 East Coast states and Washington, D.C., and full-service brokerage offices in 41 states and international offices worldwide. Online banking products and services can be accessed through

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