- Get your #baseball cap on! MLB Extra Innings is on free preview until May 5th. ^eo
In this second blog post in our series highlighting the great work being done by Canadian non-profits we support through the Rogers Youth Fund, we want to tell you a bit about our work with Boys and Girls Clubs across the country. With more than a century of experience providing high-quality before and after school programs helping children and youth to overcome barriers, Boys and Girls Clubs build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life. Who better, then, to work with us to develop Rogers Raising the Grade, a program aimed at increasing academic skills, high school graduation rates and access to post-secondary education for at-risk youth. This interactive after-school program helps kids connect with mentors and tutors, interact with peers and receive homework support.
As part of the program, Rogers has helped develop Raising the Grade Technology Centres, which offer access to high-speed Internet and current technology including computers and other electronic resources to support learning. This year, Rogers and Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada are rolling out Raising the Grade in 25 Clubs, including the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club in Regent Park. We chatted with Ian Edward, Executive Director at Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Clubs about Raising the Grade. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What is life like for many of the kids in the community you serve?
A: Unlike the majority of us who have a computer at home and access to the internet and print and produce work at home, most of the kids from Regent Park live with the reality of the digital divide. They simply don’t have the same opportunities at home as the majority of Canadians. Many of the kids we serve are new Canadians who just don’t have support at home because their parents are working multiple jobs or retraining. We try to provide them with the support they need to continue to advance in their educational pursuits.
Q: Your location, 101 Spruce Street, has undergone important renovations that included the creation of the Rogers Raising the Grade Technology Centre. What can you tell us about these changes?
A: Our building has undergone a complete retrofit including the wiring, which was also donated by Rogers. Our old tech lab was built from donated equipment that was piecemeal, often out of date and not a network environment by any stretch of the imagination. The new tech centre was set up through a consultation process between Rogers’ tech teams and the kids themselves, so we could be sure the technology would meet their needs.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for kids in your community to have access to this kind of tech centre?
A: Tech has become such a huge part of our lives: we’re connected to the Internet. It has become the way information is gathered, learned and communicated. Having this kind of access to technology allows our kids to communicate and keeps them on a level playing field with kids from more fortunate backgrounds. At the Rogers Raising the Grade Technology Centre, young people can do all the research they need to do their homework and can access online resources like health services which are expanding faster than we can keep up. Through social media, which is so important to their social networking, the tech centre provides yet another opportunity for our kids to keep up with some of their peers. I’m astounded by how intuitive they are; kids figure out technology faster than we can and in ways that I would never think of. It’s impressive.
Q: What kinds of projects are possible now that might not have been possible before the Rogers Raising the Grade Technology Centre was set up at your facility?
A: We’ve been able to add a number of programs, including digital video editing and digital photography, because we now have the right technology. Volunteers and our young people are working together to develop web sites. We have a group of five 8-10 year olds who actually created their own language and fantasy environment. They’ve been able to create their own website as well as build an online community. It’s neat to see.
The Rogers Youth Fund initiative: our national commitment to helping Canada’s youth overcome the barriers they face in getting the most out of their education. To learn more about who we’re working with, check out the interactive map and scroll over the map pins to find out more about local programs in your area.
Carly is a regular contributor to Redboard.