Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast in late October 2012, becoming the largest Atlantic hurricane on record and the second-costliest in U.S. history. It killed nearly 300 people in seven countries.

While there were numerous heroic efforts by cable personnel during and after Sandy, we’ve chosen to honor the NYC system of Time Warner Cable. By giving consideration to affected communities in its community investment program, TWC helped make something good come out of Sandy’s destruction.

As many readers know, the country’s number two MSO since 2009 has focused its community investment on combatting the decline in students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with the multi-year, award-winning Connect A Million Minds outreach.

Less known is a related effort to install TWC Learning Labs in urban community centers. Powered by TWC Business Class broadband access, the Labs include state-of-the-art computers and other equipment, provided at no cost. In addition, TWC supplies instructors who help residents learn about using the Internet for education and job-related activities. Largely aimed at students and young adults, the Labs are part of TWC’s effort to foster digital literacy.

A TWC Learning Lab can be a boon for a community center. “We conduct a lengthy evaluation process” to decide where to locate them, says Karen LaCava, who runs TWC NYC’s community investment program. “Considering how badly some neighborhoods were hurt by Sandy, we decided to take that into account when determining where to open Labs,” she adds. TWC’s NYC system has opened a trio of Labs in Sandy affected neighborhoods last year and thus far in 2014. The first opened in Red Hook, Brooklyn, on Nov. 1, 366 days after Sandy hit NYC. The Lab includes 15 laptops, 4 classroom monitors and a multimedia entertainment system with surround sound. Cameras and audio visual editing software also were provided. Red Hook Initiative annually serves 500 youth, who engage in programs to help them graduate from high school and go to college or a job development training program.

A second Lab opened weeks later, on Nov. 19, at the non-profit Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation in Far Rockaway, Queens. That Lab features 16 Dell PCs and MAC Air Pros. The Rockaways is an 11-mile peninsula that Sandy badly damaged. A third Lab in a Sandy-hit community was opened this past April 24
at the Ali Forney Center in Harlem. TWC NYC’s 12th Lab was outfitted with 25 desktop computers, 10 laptops, five tablets and a smart board. The Center is the largest agency dedicated to serving homeless and runaway Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth in NYC and nationwide. On a typical day, AFC’s programming reaches nearly 300 homeless LGBT youth. TWC also donated funds to help re-build the Center, which Sandy destroyed.

TWC also partnered with another TWC, The Weather Channel, on Connect With Weather, a program to help youth learn how to best prepare for storms. The effort kicked off last October when the TWCs held a program at a Brooklyn community center for more than 75 children and adults. Weather’s storm expert Jim Cantore discussed preparedness, as did a Red Cross representative. An official from the Humane Society told attendees how to care for animals during a weather-related incident. LaCava tells us plans are afoot to make Connect With Weather even more accessible, holding an event at the TWC retail store in Queens Center Mall. TWC’s store there is the MSO’s busiest retail outlet in the country. “We want to touch as many people as we can with information about how to be ready should another storm threaten the area,” LaCava says.
-Seth Arenstein

Fast Facts
As part of its franchise renewal with NYC, TWC committed
to have 40 Learning Labs open in NYC by 2020. The
system’s investment will exceed $2 million, plus complimentary
TWC Business Class Internet and video services.

TWC automatically credited residential and business
subscribers for missed services due to Sandy, which
destroyed power lines throughout NYC. Other providers
issued credits when contacted by subscribers.

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