Intel Corp. has selected the Tacoma Urban League to host the first Intel Computer Clubhouse in Washington designed to promote computer literacy and to prepare student members for technology-related jobs.

The Urban League will receive a $200,000 grant to support installation and first-year operations of the clubhouse, which will include $60,000 for program costs and more than $100,000 for complementary computers and software, plus technical support and training, furnishings and free Internet access for one year.

“The Tacoma Urban League is tremendously excited about this program,” says Shirl E. Gilbert II, Urban League CEO.

The computer clubhouse is the only such program established by Intel in the state. It will be open to youth from 8 to 18 who will be encouraged to develop their own curricula.

As Urban League Vice President for Development Bill Walles put it: “If they want to play computer games, that’s fine, but they’ll have to write their own computer program before they can do it.”

The Evergreen State College will be a partner with the Urban League in establishing the program in a clubhouse setting at 1209 Martin Luther King Way.

“The Clubhouse learning model fits marvelously with our philosophy of allowing students to direct their own education,” says Joye Hardiman, executive director of TESC-Tacoma.

TESC students will work as mentors with the students when the Clubhouse opens this fall—probably in October, says Walles.

“The reason Intel did this is that computers are a means of opening up the lives of kids who make the effort to learn,” Walles says. “Technology is a creative tool to open up the mind.”

Walles says Intel has established similar programs in several states where it operates major corporate facilities. Because its Dupont operation is in Pierce County, Intel worked with TESC to select a site in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood to assist disadvantaged students.

Students will be welcome to the free program from throughout the city, he said, emphasizing that the program will be under close supervision from mentors and supervisors alike.

The program will receive further support from Adobe Systems, Covad Communications, Hewlett-Packard, Macromedia, and Autodesk Inc. Covad, for instance, will provide DSL Internet access to the Clubhouse Network.

Hewlett-Packard will donate a substantial number of desktop personal computers, printers, scanners and digital cameras. Intel will invest $20 million in the programs through 2005.

“It’s just a wonderful opportunity for kids,” Walles says.