By Mandy Hale, Public Relations Specialist, Connected Tennessee
In the final installment of our back to school blog series, we examine Connected Tennessee’s innovative and successful Computers 4 Kids program, which helps gives youth across Tennessee access to their own home computer.
Kids across Tennessee will be going back to school next week armed with not only summer memories, but with new computers, thanks to Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids (C4K) program.
C4K has been making its way across the state this summer, from Union City in far west Tennessee to Kingsport in far east Tennessee, awarding a total of more than 1,400 computers to deserving youth across the state. Both teens aging out of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services program as well as active participants in the state’s Boys & Girls Clubs received computers – the DCS youth awarded with laptops to carry with them into the next phase of their lives, while the Boys & Girls Clubs were outfitted with new computer labs, available to the children to work on projects, complete homework assignments, and in some cases, even check out a laptop to take home for studying purposes.
“Many participants come from low-income, single-parent homes and don’t have computers,” explains Michal Cranford, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga. “With take-home computers, doing research papers may be easier for students, and those in high school will be able to find more financial aid opportunities for college.”
In Knoxville, the Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year Nadia Valdez will start at the University of Tennessee this fall. Thanks to the C4K computers available to her through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Knoxville, Nadia will have somewhere to go to work on college assignments and connect with new friends in social network settings. Nadia’s experience with the Boys & Girls Clubs has equipped her with both social and educational tools that will last her far into the future:
“I recently competed for the Southeast Region Title and made it to the top three. It was an amazing experience and a wonderful way to meet other Youth of the Year across the region,” says Nadia. “I am super excited about attending the University of Tennessee next month; the summer has just completely flown by. Summer Orientation was a blast, and I cannot wait for classes to start! Thank you once again for all of your hard work and compassion.”
As summer turns to fall, the next phase of the C4K project will be kicking into high gear, with various training opportunities taking place at both DCS and Boys & Girls Clubs locations across the state. And the project will continue to award computers and host other educational events for the next two years, impacting nearly 60,000 youth across the state by the time it reaches completion.
Debbie Gray, executive vice president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga, sums the C4K project up well:
“What a great opportunity this will be for the kids.”
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