More than 40 local students participated in the region’s first digital literacy and education summer program designed to address equality issues in technology education and to help local students impacted by the digital divide
Rochester, NY – August 30, 2021 – In celebration of the completion of the AT&T and BGC Digital Experience, Assemblymember Demond Meeks and Common Council Member & Presumptive Mayor-Elect Malik Evans visited the program to address the more than 40 underrepresented Greater Rochester area students on the importance of digital literacy and engaging in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and career pathways. The free two-month program, created by AT&T and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester, is the region’s first free digital literacy education program designed to address equality issues in technology education and to help local students impacted by the digital divide, while encouraging more underserved and diverse students to enter the field of technology, an industry that has long faced a pervasive diversity gap. In addition, Assemblymember Meeks and Common Council Member & Presumptive Mayor-Elect Evans joined leadership from AT&T and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester to tour the program during which students and instructors demonstrated what the students learned during the experience and demonstrated some of their digital literacy projects. The free two-month long program was made possible by financial support and programing collaboration from AT&T as part of the company’s recently announced $2 billion nationwide commitment to help bridge the digital divide and homework gap.
Over the past two-month program, more than 40 students ages 9-18 years old spent their summer learning a vast array of digital literacy skills, including computer coding basics, drone design and operations, robotics building and programing, innovative engineering design, virtual reality fundamentals and aeronautics. The students also learned how technology can be used for good and community building by creating solutions and discovering creative uses to address issues impacting youth of the region, such as equality and social justice. The AT&T and BGC Digital Experience also connected students with team-based coding projects designed to make a difference in their schools and their community, while providing them hands-on experience developing their own technology. The students also learned from local mentors and professional technologists as well as went on field trips to tech settings and companies around their community to learn more about future tech career opportunities. During the showcase event and tour the students demonstrated and discussed how they learned to build and operate drones, hoverboards, chemical labs, and robotic arm kits.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester mission is to inspire and enable young people of all backgrounds to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. The organization is committed to proving that every kid has what it takes to overcome negative environments and move toward fulfilling their dreams. Through a vast array of supportive youth programming and mentorship specifically designed to change the lives of those who face daily challenges such as poverty, broken homes, crime, unemployment, prejudice, and difficulties in school, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester gives all kids the opportunity to achieve a great future.
“STEM education and access is so vital in preparing our young people for future careers,” said Common Council Member & Presumptive Mayor-Elect Evans. “Access is often a barrier for many youth and our community, I am so grateful for the Boys and Girls Clubs and AT&T for providing STEM opportunities for Rochester’s Youth. By opening these doors, we are preparing youth for future careers in STEM.”
“The pandemic has shown us that access to digital tools are essential to education and the careers of today. This initiative will work to democratize technology by ensuring that all students, no matter their neighborhood or income level, can build the skills needed to become experts in fields like gaming, virtual reality, or create the tools used by future generations,” said Senator Jeremy Cooney. We live in a city where 1 in every 2 children live in poverty, but it is organizations like The Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester, and along with important partnerships like this one with AT&T, will help us address the needs of our community. I’m excited for this effort to keep our children on the cutting edge and give them the opportunities they need in an increasingly digital world.”
“In order for our children to reach their full potential, we must recognize underserved individuals in our communities. It is important that our children have the freedom to pursue their passions by engaging with online learning and digital technology in meaningful ways,” said Assemblymember Meeks. “Inclusion programs are critical in addressing today’s disparities. I am grateful to see this collaboration between AT&T and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester in an effort towards building digital literacy and equity in our community.”
Digital knowledge is quickly becoming the new literacy and is the driver of all new global technology. With the growing demand to innovate, organizations across various industries struggle to fill skilled positions. It’s projected that there will be 3.5 million STEM jobs in the U.S. by 2025, underscoring the importance of providing youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy. The urgency for more diverse technology trained employees is accentuated by the low percentage of diversity within the technology industry. This alarming diversity shortage in the tech industry and the growing STEM job market emphasizes the importance of providing programing like the AT&T and BGC Digital Experience for youth of all backgrounds and economic situations.
“It has been an honor to collaborate with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester to offer this innovative experience to these students, as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for digital literacy educational programming throughoutnd builds upon our vigorous efforts to bridge the diversity gap in the technology industry,” said Kevin Hanna, director, External Affairs, AT&T. “I am so impressed by these remarkable students and proud of their determination throughout the entire summer working hard to gain critical digital literacy skills, they all have great futures ahead of them.”
AT&T’s partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester to develop and offer this free digital literacy program aligns with the Company’s legacy of supporting the digital divide and educational programs focused on digital literacy and STEM disciplines in New York through AT&T Aspire initiative that leverages technology and social innovation to help give people – regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status – the opportunity to succeed. Aspire is one of the nation’s largest corporate commitments focused on advancing education, creating opportunities, strengthening communities, and improving lives, particularly amongst historically underserved populations, by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems that promote racial equity in academic and economic achievement.
About Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester
Founded in 1971, the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester is to inspire and enable young people of all backgrounds to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester provide youth development programs that enable young people to acquire the skills and qualities needed to become responsible citizens and leaders. Empowered with these positive developmental experiences and opportunities, Boys & Girls Club members have continually demonstrated their ability to overcome negative, failure-oriented environments and move toward fulfilling their dreams. Since its inception, the Boys & Girls Club Movement has provided mentoring and leadership specifically designed to change the lives of youth who face daily challenges such as poverty, broken homes, crime, unemployment, prejudice, and difficulties in school.
About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T
We’re committed to advancing education, creating opportunities, strengthening communities and improving lives. AT&T Connected Learning is a multi-year commitment to bridge the digital divide and narrow the homework gap, so today’s learners are connected with skills, resources, and opportunities for success in school and in life. Since 2008, we’ve committed $600 million to programs that help millions of students across all 50 states and around the world, particularly those in underserved communities.