These makeovers — part of the nationwide launch of My.Future, a new technology skills partnership between Comcast NBCUniversal and BGCA — brought in state-of-the-art computers, tablets, smart boards, digital cameras, music studio tools, and video-editing capabilities. In addition, the Comcast Foundation funded on-site renovations, including new paint, furniture, and structural repairs.
Youth served annually by 4,100 Boys & Girls Clubs who will have access to My.Future
Inside the Wayne Avenue Boys & Girls Club, which serves more than 200 young people a day in one of Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods, Club kids were ecstatic. "Our kids could not believe that all of this technology was really for them," says Lisabeth Marziello, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia.
Through My.Future, the latest chapter in our 15-year relationship with BGCA, Comcast NBCUniversal is committing tens of millions of dollars in cash and in-kind support over the next five years to help young people embrace and explore the transformative power of technology. Through personalized, hands-on learning and training, My.Future prepares Club kids to succeed in the growing digital world.
Already, My.Future has fundamentally transformed the way BGCA serves young people and local communities.
"The foundation of the Boys & Girls Club experience has been one-on-one relationships — that will always be true," says Kimberly Boyd, National Vice President of Program, Training, and Youth Development Services at BGCA. "My.Future is game-changing in that we’ve come to recognize that personal relationships can extend well beyond face-to-face interactions for this generation. The world can be very well connected in a digital environment, and young people feel a strong personal connection through digital engagement."
Or as Jim Clark, President and CEO of BGCA, puts it, "When it comes to kids, we have to play in their space."
Closing the technology gap
Digital literacy — access to technology and the skills to use it with confidence — is crucial as this generation of students prepares to become tomorrow’s job seekers. Yet millions of American children — particularly in underserved communities — lack that access.
"The next generation will not be equipped to fill the technology jobs of tomorrow unless we take a holistic approach today, with access to technology and the skills to use it safely, effectively, and creatively," says David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation. "My.Future helps build that bridge."
My.Future delivers the advanced digital tools and resources that young people need to succeed now and throughout their lives. The program begins with Essentials, a suite of project-based experiences designed to round out Club kids’ basic technology skills.
Kids can then move on to Extensions, which encourages them to dive deeply into specific areas of interest — such as robotics, coding, online journalism, and game design — that could lead to future career paths. Along the way, My.Future participants can create a digital portfolio of their growing technical competencies to show colleges and prospective employers.
Changing with the times
My.Future traces its roots to Club Tech, an earlier Comcast technology initiative with BGCA that helped introduce basic technology to those who needed it most. "At that time, we were encountering kids who had not grown up with any sort of technology," Kimberly says. "No computers at home, little or nothing at school. We had to start with the basics of how to access and use technology."
A lot has changed in the world of technology, and kids are now effectively digital natives. "By 2014, most of the young people coming through our doors have grown up with some kind of technology as a universal part of their lives," Kimberly says.
To remain relevant for this new generation of kids, BGCA had to revisit and refresh their approach. It also needed the commitment of a technology partner that could grow with the needs of local Clubs and their members.
"The evolution of Club Tech into My.Future required foresight and patience," Kimberly says. "Comcast NBCUniversal was a crucial, early backer and has shown their willingness as a true foundational partner for ongoing discovery-based digital learning."