Jamestown Community Center opened its doors way back in 1971, as a welcomed addition to the Mission neighborhood. The community-based organization annually serves over 1,000 youth and their families with a full array of high-quality programs – all free of charge. There are 522 Mission students participating in Jamestown’s programs this summer.
With a month until school restarts, it was deemed the ideal time to engage students in all things tech, as preparation for the upcoming 2016-17 academic year. That’s why yesterday MEDA brought its eighth “Get Connected!” event to Jamestown’s summer program students at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 in the Mission.
“I was excited for our latest ‘Get Connected!’ event, and for the summer cohort of the Mission Techies to teach classes to Jamestown Community Center’s summer students. This is a great addition to our social enterprise model. It seemed like a natural fit,” explained MEDA Technology Training Coordinator Leo Sosa.
The twelve-week Mission Techies program – part of MEDA’s free Workforce Development – teaches IT essentials of hardware, software, networking and coding to 17- to 24-year-olds from habitually underresourced communities. As participants learn these skills, they then refurbish low-income residents’ computers, at no cost. It’s a way of paying it forward via an impactful social enterprise model that is part of the curriculum.
Echoed Jamestown Community Center Executive Director Myrna Melgar, “It just made sense for MEDA’s Mission Techies’ to engage with our students. They are close in age. That makes students more receptive to the educational message, and I know our youngsters learned important skills today.”
Those skills centered on how to build an app — in this case, a voice-recognition app for smartphones. Youngsters of all ages could be seen focused on this task, excited at the possibility of their final product.
Those over 18 were part of educational workshops, too, as Mission Techies taught online-security tools to parents. It is imperative for adults to learn how to monitor their children’s online activities, for it can be unnerving when a youngster knows more than the parent.
A Tech Career Panel was later on hand to advise on pathways to become part of San Francisco’s booming tech sector. The four-person panel featured: Corporate Accountant Cristina Del Aguila of Zynga, whose parents migrated from Peru about three decades ago; Dropbox Engineer Abraham Velazquez, who hails from Mexico City and previously worked at Apple; Product Integrations Specialist Fernando Pereira of DoubleDutch, who took apart a laptop at age 8 and became instantly enthralled with all things tech; and the Mission Promise Neighborhood’s Ana Avilez , a native of Honduras who is now a computer instructor/family success coach for this education initiative in the Mission.
There was then a raffle for two Chromebooks, with the duo of winners excited to now have a computing device for their home — a major need for low-income families in the Mission.
Yesterday was not solely about tech. Jamestown’s Melgar made sure that an artistic slant was part of the day’s activities. That meant bringing in Loco Bloco, an organization with a mission to foster youngsters’ healthy transition into adulthood by engaging them in the creation and performance of music, dance and theater rooted in Afro-Latino traditions. The kids definitely enjoyed themselves as they showcased their artistic talents.
A great day was had by all, with students – and their parents – now better prepared for the upcoming school year.
Thanks to Google and Facebook for their sponsorship of this ”Get Connected!” community event.