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Firm Gives Computers to School Lab, Pupils

While the children at Langdon Avenue Elementary School are not the only ones in the Los Angeles Unified School District to benefit from donated computer equipment, they may be the only ones who are actually taking the computers home.

To date, 84 Langdon students have received surplus computers as part of a 3-year-old partnership between a local aerospace company and the school’s LA’s BEST after-school program. The company, Van Nuys-based ITT Gilfillan, offers a six-week training course to the Langdon students and then presents the graduates with their own computers.

ITT Gilfillan has also outfitted the school’s computer lab with 10 machines, and on Thursday it donated a new, high-powered computer with Internet access and a color printer to the school’s library.

“Many companies donate computers to schools, but we wanted to start a training program as well,” said Victor Rios, president of ITT Gilfillan.

“There is a very large underprivileged population in this area that doesn’t have access to computers. I believe we have a corporate responsibility to help the community we are in,” Rios said.

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The partnership between the company, which builds radar systems, and the school was forged after Rios wrote to Mayor Riordan in 1994 offering to donate surplus computers to the LAUSD. The mayor’s office put him in touch with the LA’s BEST program, which provides after-school activities to about 5,000 LAUSD students at 24 elementary schools in neighborhoods deemed most vulnerable to gangs, drugs and crime.

“This program serves a lot of purposes,” said Langdon Assistant Principal Phil Genino. “It teaches them computer literacy and it opens their eyes to a world beyond Langdon Avenue because they go to the company and learn from real engineers.”

Rios said he has been encouraging other businesses to get involved in similar programs. “To prepare our children for jobs in the future, the business community must get involved,” he said.


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