Members of the UC Riverside campus community joined together on July 2 to celebrate the grand reopening of the David Bohnett CyberCenter, located inside UCR’s LGBT Resource Center.
The “refreshed” CyberCenter, made possible by a grant from the David Bohnett Foundation, provides students and visitors to the LGBT Resource Center with six new Office- and Adobe design-loaded Apple iMacs with which to network, communicate, and explore professional and educational opportunities.
“The David Bohnett CyberCenter is a tremendous asset to the LGBT Resource Center and the people we serve,” said LGBT Resource Center Director Nancy Jean Tubbs. “Thanks to the generosity of the David Bohnett Foundation, UCR students are able to access resources in a safe and accessible location. Students use the David Bohnett CyberCenter to complete research and coursework, to create marketing materials for their student organizations, and to simply find an expanded community of support online.”
The David Bohnett Foundation currently supports 58 active CyberCenters nationwide, including ones at UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Utah.
Each CyberCenter is equipped with between five and 15 computer stations outfitted with a broad range of updated programs and software for business and personal computing. Computer access is always free, and training on job searching, internet best practices, and online security is readily available. Every three to four years, each CyberCenter is supplied with brand-new, state-of-the-art equipment.
In establishing the CyberCenters, technology entrepreneur and philanthropist David Bohnett’s vision was to provide LGBT communities with a “wired” hub through which members could connect with each other and explore educational, professional, and recreational opportunities. Paul Moore, program officer for the David Bohnett Foundation, said the CyberCenters give LGBT people of all ages quality internet access and provide a safe place to work and socialize.
“The David Bohnett CyberCenters are places where gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people can comfortably get on a computer, access services, and network with each other in a nurturing and supportive atmosphere,” he added. “The CyberCenters have proven to be a lifeline for people of all ages — from youth, who may find themselves without a support system, to seniors, who may have little or no familiarity with computers. In today’s increasingly internet-driven world, we are happy to provide regular ‘refresh’ grants enabling groups to keep pace with the many advances in computer hardware and software.”
The first David Bohnett CyberCenter opened its doors at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center (now known as the Los Angeles LGBT Center) in 1998. The CyberCenter was an immediate hit and served as the model for similar facilities throughout the United States. Today, they’re’ recognized as prime examples of the foundation’s commitment to making leading-edge technology available to the traditionally underserved LGBT demographic.
Opened in 2006, and refreshed three times since then, UCR’s CyberCenter offers a space to connect students to resources beyond coursework and community-building. In 2019, for example, the LGBT Resource Center partnered with the campus food pantry, R’Pantry, to host an R’Pantry CalFresh Outreach event. At the event, 43 students signed up for CalFresh, the monthly financial assistance program that seeks to provide nutritious food to Californians with limited income.
R’Pantry interns walked students through the online application process using the CyberCenter’s six iMacs. Not only are students experiencing food insecurity now able to access state help, Tubbs said, but many also visited the LGBT Resource Center for the first time, giving them the opportunity to explore its various resources and connect with other students in the lounge.
More about the David Bohnett Foundation: Since 1999, the David Bohnett Foundation has improved society through social activism, providing funding, state-of-the-art technology, and technical support to innovative organizations and institutions throughout the country. Grants totaling more than $110 million to date have been given in several primary funding areas: The Fund for Los Angeles, supporting a broad spectrum of arts, educational, and civic programs; LGBT-related causes; voting rights and registration initiatives; research and public policies to reduce the toll of firearm violence; and animal research and rights.
David Bohnett serves as chair of the David Bohnett Foundation as well as the head of the early-stage technology fund Baroda Ventures, and was the founder of GeoCities, an internet-based media and e-commerce company that was acquired by Yahoo in 1999. His goals are improving lives, empowering individuals, and building viable communities by connecting like-minded people in meaningful ways. Also central to Bohnett’s vision is a call-to-action to aspiring philanthropists to begin their giving by getting personally involved with causes with which they identify so that they can experience service firsthand.