Bringing Technology Access and Job Skills to Disadvantaged Youth
“We’re living in a society that uses technology daily. If you don’t know how you use it, you’re going to be left behind.”
– Kate Medd, IC3, Computer Refurbishing and Recycling Trainer at GAP
As society becomes more and more dependent on technology, so do companies. Today, it’s nearly impossible to gain employment without knowing basic computer skills – whether you’re a mechanic, a business executive or a chef – technology skills are a must.
Unfortunately, the high cost of technology deepens the economic divide between today’s youth. As a result of the expense associated with technology, disadvantaged youth typically don’t have the computer skills that are crucial to success in school and the workforce.
Guadalupe Alternative Program School (GAP) in St. Paul, Minnesota provides education to underserved youth who have not been successful in traditional education settings.
In order to provide GAP students with the technology skills necessary to secure employment and compete in the workforce, GAP turned to Minnesota Computers for Schools (MCFS). The curriculum, which uses the same Microsoft certified training program MCFS has successfully implemented at the Stillwater Correctional Facility, teaches students basic computer skills and computer recycling and refurbishing – skills that are becoming increasingly important in today’s economy and can lead to a job after graduation.
“This program is one of a kind, it not only teaches students recycling and refurbishing but gives them the necessary hands-on experience. This, along with ability to learn basic computer skills gives students the knowledge and skills necessary for employment in today’s workforce,” said Tamara Gillard, Executive Director, Minnesota Computers for Schools.
Together, with support from local businesses including Bigelow Foundation, St. Paul Foundation, Donaldson Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation and Otto Bremer Foundation, MCFS and GAP provide computer skills to a group of students who don’t typically have access to technology and often get left behind.
During the program’s first year:
- 65 computers were placed in classrooms at GAP
- 21 students learned technical and employable job skills
- 300+ computers were recycled by students
Bringing technology to GAP has positively affected student learning in a variety of ways including: supporting the thinking process, increasing self-esteem and preparing students for the future.
“I think it’s innovative; it’s never been done before and it’s only going to get better,” said Medd.