In the 2014 round of Tech Matching Grants (TMF), North Seattle Boys & Girls Club (NSBGC) was awarded $20,000 to create 23 computer work stations, now providing free computer access and education to hundreds of youth. Volunteers and staff monitor the labs, offer technology classes and partner with community organizations to offer additional programs.
Since the computers’ arrival last fall, the equipment has been in almost continual use. During the school year, homework takes priority for computer use as more than 100 youth come to the Club each afternoon. Various age groups cycle through the computer labs for designated homework time, with staff and volunteers available to help complete assignments. Each evening, technology education classes engage kids in activities like writing newsletters and designing projects.
Having the computer labs on-site also allows several special projects. Teens used the computers to research electric airplanes, create a blog about their community service projects, and learn about resume building. Younger kids used the computers to experiment with robotics, create newsletters and design graphic projects.
This summer, the North Seattle Club was selected to pilot a new Google CS First (Computer Science) curriculum. Led by AmeriCorps VISTA staff, youth as young as 4th grade experimented with writing code. This fall, North Seattle will continue the program with Club staff and volunteers teaching the class.
“Our computer labs are a springboard for so many programs and opportunities,” says Joan Caldon, Club Executive Director for NSBGC and STEM committee member for Boys & Girls Clubs of King County. “Strong technology skills open doors for our Club kids, and will likely provide a way out of poverty for many.”