Last weekend The Foundling launched its new Digital Inclusion Program which will help narrow the digital divide that exists between foster youth and their peers in New York City. Computer classes were held at The Foundling’s West Village Location and will take place throughout the fall. Each participant receives a free computer and Internet access in their homes for four years.
Less than 50 percent of former New York City foster youth are employed within four years of emancipation—and only 3 percent of foster kids nationwide graduate from college. These are startling facts and something must be done to stop this cycle. For this reason, The Foundling has chosen to focus its efforts on digital inclusion through two unique programs.
The first program is available to foster youth ages 12+ and teaches basic computer and internet skills. Foster parents are encouraged to participate as well, and can use these newly acquired skills to enhance their own digital and tech abilities. The program includes a series of three classes which consist of a curriculum developed by The Knowledge House, a Bronx-based, tech organization. This program will empower foster youth and give them the tools they need to excel in school and beyond.
The second initiative is a workforce development program for highly motivated youth interested in technology. The Foundling will identify candidates from eight foster care agencies (collectively serving more than 40 percent of the New York City’s foster population) and enroll them in one of three tech vocational organizations: Per Scholas, Year Up or General Assembly.
Benefits of this program include: a laptop computer, access to tutors knowledgeable in their course content, opportunities for mentorship with professionals in technology, a peer support group, access to social service supports (e.g., help with housing needs, child care, relationship difficulties, etc.) and enhanced job placement services.
“Our first-of-its-kind workforce program aims to close the tech employment gap with young adults who face huge barriers to finding jobs, who bring unexplored ideas and experiences to tech and who are motivated to work hard in this field,” said The Foundling’s Chief Operating Officer, Bethany Lampland, who developed both pilot programs.
Want to learn more? Check out this article about our new program which was featured in Metro New York.