For its September meeting, the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion held a showcase featuring presentations by six organizations providing advanced digital skills training to students in the urban core. The following is a brief recap of the goals and programs of each organization.
Urban TEC (presented by Ina P. Montgomery) – Urban TEC was founded in 2013 to improve access to tech training and STEAM learning opportunities in urban schools and communities. Today, Urban TEC offers a variety of after-school STEAM programming for students on topics ranging from 3D printing and VR to circuitry and programming. These experiences giving students the opportunity to learn tech skills through engaging project-based curricula.
Black Family Technology Awareness Association (Presented by George Walker) – BFTAA works to bridge the gap between Black families and technology by providing computer training to Kansas City families. BFTAA offers STEM learning opportunities to youth through its technology club, which offers students the opportunity to learn about robotics, drones, and more through hands-on projects. BFTAA also manages the internet community broadcasting station KUAW, through which it helps connect families to digital inclusion resources like the federal Affordable Connectivity Program.
Grateful Education Foundation (presented by Jamal Shakur) – Grateful Education Foundation was founded in April 2019 to provide free educational support for the social, emotional, and academic needs of Kansas City residents. The organization is current redeveloping a facility to serve as an education resource hub for the community, and provides a variety of workshops and trainings on subjects including mental health awareness, gun safety, parenting, computer literacy, youth entrepreneurship and STEM education, teen civic engagement, senior education, and health outreach.
i.c.stars (presented by Nyomi Brooks) – i.c.stars offers a two-year technology-based workforce development program for young adults from underserved communities. i.c.stars first launched in Chicago before expanding to Milwaukee in 2018, and just launched in Kansas City this year. i.c.stars’ program begins with a four month paid internship featuring project-based learning, technology training, and leadership development. Upon completing the internship, participants enter the residency stage, and receive 20 months of coaching and career development support, access to laptops and software, and assistance with job placement and college enrollment.
United by Creativity (presented by Shakyra Washington) – United by Creativity is committed to providing opportunities to empowering youths and providing opportunities for them to develop creative skills. United by Creativity hosts community events including book publishing parties, opportunities for youth to engage with local legislators, and events serving homeless individuals. United by Creativity also runs a youth ambassador program in which kids aged 12-16 participate in community service projects, visit the state capital, participate in a youth development retreat, and are recognized at an annual youth banquet.
W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center (presented by Joshua Haskin) – The W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center offers educational services and technology access to youth and adults from underserved Kansas City communities. The Center offers free reading, math, and science tutoring programs for school children on Monday through Saturday, and provides IT job training to adults through its Networking Essentials class. The Center will soon be celebrating its 50th year anniversary of serving the Kansas City community.