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AT&T’s Partnership with BGC Brings Free Technology Program to Underrepresented Students

Staff Report

Assemblymember Demond Meeks, Kevin Hanna, Director of External Affairs, AT&T, Dwayne Mahoney, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester and Common Council Member & Presumptive Mayor-Elect of Rochester Malik Evans. Photo Provided.

Rochester’s Presumptive Mayor-Elect Malik Evans and Assemblymember Demond Meeks were at the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester, 500 Genesee Street, Monday to address students on the importance of digital literacy and engaging in a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

The visit was in celebration of the more than 40 underrepresented Rochester area students who completed a free two-month program created by the BGC and funded by AT&T, 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.

Organizers say the program is the region’s first free digital literacy education program and the funding and programming collaboration from AT&T is part of the company’s recently announced $2 billion nationwide commitment to help bridge the digital divide and homework gap.

“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,” Evans said.

In addition, Evans and Meeks was joined by 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 exhibited some of their digital literacy projects.

“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 throughout New York, and builds upon our vigorous efforts to bridge the diversity gap in the technology industry,” said Kevin Hanna, director, External Affairs, AT&T.

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. Over the past two-months 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 programming, 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.

“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,” Assemblymember Meeks said.

According to AT&T, their 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.