In today’s world, technology is critical for building social and economic equality. That’s why we are committed to supporting Boys & Girls Clubs of America and their MyFuture platform, which we created together and helps young people develop tech skills to open doors to opportunity. And as distance learning grows, MyFuture has helped fill a critical gap for students learning at both Clubs and at home. MyFuture has now been upgraded with a new look and new programs to keep kids and teens learning safely online during the pandemic.

Below a longtime staff member at a Boston-area Club, Rob Kennedy, reflects on the impact of MyFuture at the Boys & Girls Club of Lynn.

You could say that mentorship is in my blood. Growing up outside of Boston, my grandfather was on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Lynn – where I’ve now been employed for 13 years – setting an example and getting me involved at a young age. To celebrate the winter holidays when we were kids, he would give the Club members gifts on our behalf to teach us that our time and resources can make a difference. Seeing the looks on the Club members’ faces was something I never forget, and it inspired me to go into this line of work.

I know that with the right resources, the young people that come to Boys & Girls Club of Lynn can do anything they put their minds to - including Ismael Diaz-Mateo. Ismael came to our club about 10 years ago after moving from the Dominican Republic. He was in a new country, facing a language barrier and a lack of access to technology without a home computer - and now he is a mechanical engineering major at Tufts University.

From day one he was eager to learn, inspiring me to be a better professional. We did spelling bees and math problems to stir his confidence as he started to learn English. About five years ago when Comcast launched MyFuture, a safe, fun platform to learn digital skills at the Club, Ismael immediately got involved in coding and the gears took off! While other kids went straight for the gym, Ismael always wanted to start on homework – doing projects and earning “badges” on MyFuture. It was the perfect outlet for a motivated student, allowing him to keep pushing himself to the next level.

Ismael isn’t the only one. I’ve seen MyFuture make a difference for so many kids. They’ve earned “badges” in categories like introduction to web safety, coding projects and more. Boys & Girls Clubs across the country have had to adjust – just like every nonprofit – to continue our mission in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before COVID, we saw 400 students a day come through our Club. With a brand-new building we developed the proper precautions to see close to 100, but it’s great to know that MyFuture is now available for anyone ages 6 to 24 – no matter where they are.

My job is to first teach the Club members to be good people, and then introduce them to the different avenues in life and let them choose. Technology is vital to opening doors for almost any path they would take these days. Without MyFuture and the access to digital skills it provides, many of our members would be left behind.

Ismael won 2020’s BGCA Massachusetts Youth of the Year award – it has been incredible to watch him grow. It feels great to know that because we helped provide him with the right resources, his future is wide open. And I’d like to think that my grandfather would have wholeheartedly agreed.