Laurens, S.C. – Today, the University of South Carolina Union officially opened two new Palmetto College iCarolina Learning Labs in the Clinton and Laurens communities. Both of the new labs are operated by the USC Union – Laurens Location.
The two new labs, located inside the Laurens and Clinton branches of the Laurens County Public Library System, join five other labs that opened in Allendale, Lancaster, Sumter, Union and Walterboro in 2022 to provide underserved communities in South Carolina with access to high-speed broadband internet.
The existing Palmetto College iCarolina Learning Lab at USC Union, housed in the Union County Carnegie Library in Union, S.C., serves as a hub for the new locations within branches of the Laurens County Public Library System. The Laurens County Public Library branch has a dedicated room for this space that features ten iMac stations, as well as MacBooks and iPads for use in and around the library. The current Clinton Public Library branch houses a kiosk that holds MacBooks and iPads for people to use in and around the library – serving as a mobile Palmetto College iCarolina Learning Lab. Once the branch moves into its new space, a dedicated lab will house ten iMac stations in addition to the MacBooks and iPads.
In March 2021, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster awarded $6 Million of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds to the University of South Carolina, who in partnership with Benedict College, have been establishing Apple computer labs to serve communities statewide. The existing labs, located at regional USC Palmetto College campuses, are all situated within 15 miles or less of a broadband desert, according to the South Carolina Broadband Map, providing reliable technology and internet access to these communities.
“We are pleased to expand the Palmetto College Learning Lab Network to serve the Laurens and Clinton communities,” said Dr. Susan Elkins, Palmetto College Chancellor. “This technological investment in our campuses and communities opens the door for so many South Carolinians to gain skills and certifications that will enable them to grow both academically and professionally, including the Swift programming language. Continued thanks to Governor McMaster for the leadership and vision that has created such a tremendous opportunity for these communities. Also, thanks to USC Union Dean Randy Lowell and the entire USC Union team for their work in executing this vision in these three communities.”
The Palmetto College iCarolina Learning Lab network, a partnership with Apple Inc., launched a free Swift coding certification course beginning in January 2023 semester to teach Apple’s iOS language to students in the USC System and to community members across South Carolina. Those enrolled in the courses learn the skills needed to develop apps for iOS, MacOS, Apple TV and Apple Watch.
USC Union was home to the first Palmetto College iCarolina Lab, and we are very excited to be able to expand the mission and mandate of this initiative beyond Union into the Laurens and Clinton communities,” said Dr. Randy Lowell, campus dean at USC Union.
The Palmetto College iCarolina Learning Labs across South Carolina have been strategically located for use by the regional USC Palmetto College campuses, local school districts, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the South Carolina Technical College System and citizens in the community. Each site provides Apple products and educational programming to faculty, staff, students and the community at no cost to the user. To date, seven Palmetto College iCarolina Learning Labs have opened to serve the surrounding communities of USC Union (Union, Laurens and Clinton), USC Lancaster (Lancaster), USC Salkehatchie (Allendale and Walterboro) and USC Sumter (Sumter).
“We are excited to open two new locations for the Palmetto College iCarolina Learning Lab at USC Union in the Laurens and Clinton communities,” said Bill Kirkland, executive director of the USC Office of Economic Engagement. “These are the sixth and seventh labs to open on or near our regional Palmetto College campuses, with each lab being located within 15 miles of a broadband desert. As the state’s flagship institution, USC is leading at the forefront ensuring that our underserved communities and rural populations can actively participate in and benefit from the modern economy by investing in our communities and providing access to technology and high demand skills training.”