SYC Tech Bridge Grants: Impact Stories

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Sept. 3, 2020 - In June the Colorado State Youth Council (SYC) awarded six organizations with Tech Bridge grants to address the growing technology divide that hinders Colorado youth from accessing career and education opportunities. Since receiving funding, the various organizations have helped increase access to technology for youth across the state through a variety of innovative projects. 

Learn more about the projects and check out the impact stories below from grant recipients:

Workforce Boulder County
Workforce Boulder County Tech Bridge Grant

I want to start this with thanking you again for nominating me to receive an iPad! I am on my way to get my GED partly because you have been encouraging me and this was just the icing on the cake! So THANK YOU! I know that you will be sharing this with those associated with the grant that gifted me this I want to THANK them as well because this has been such a blessing! 

Before I received the iPad I was using an Amazon tablet with a cracked screen but still safe to use. The screen on that tablet was much smaller and didn’t help to motivate me to pursue my GED. Of course I was thankful that I at least had that. We couldn’t even think of affording an iPad so when I was told that I would be receiving an iPad to keep, I could hardly believe it. Another thing that I want to mention is that I received this iPad a little bit before my birthday, so it was an AMAZING early birthday present too!

So how has the iPad helped me in pursuing my GED? It has helped me in these ways:

  • Bigger screen makes it easier to use.
  • The cover acts as a stand so I can see the screen better.
  • Easier to check my email.
  • Makes me more motivated and excited to take time out for schooling.

On August 27 I am scheduled to take my first GED exam (language arts). I took the pretest first on the iPad and I know that it helped me to take the test! THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who played a part in gifting me this wonderful iPad!

Story submitted by Caramia, youth recipient of grant-funded technology from Workforce Boulder County

Groundwork Denver

Our Groundwork Denver Youth Program would like to first extend gratitude to the Colorado State Youth Council for the Tech Bridge grant funds awarded to us. These funds helped us to increase access to technological tools for our Green Team youth supervisors and our Green Team youth overall. 

With our Tech Bridge grant, we were able to purchase two additional iPads. This ensured each of our seven youth supervisors had a tablet to keep track of summer team projects, utilize environmentally focused educational apps while in the field, and stay on top of emails with no office access this season due to COVID-19. These tablets also allow our youth teams to keep photos and videos of their work in one saved location, as opposed to relying on various personal phones, and an enhanced opportunity for creativity.

These funds also gave Groundwork the opportunity to purchase three additional hot spots and Wi-Fi data. These hot spots are increasing access to Wi-Fi for our 68 youth employees and will continue to be utilized throughout the school year in the face of library closures due to COVID-19. 

As an organization, because of COVID-19, we have been processing hiring paperwork entirely electronically. This remote Wi-Fi will improve this process for families that do not have internet access at home. These hot spots will also be utilized by one of our youth teams for a Fall work project at an out-of-state National Wildlife Refuge. This will ensure more
efficient tracking of project progress and more accurate time logs for our end-of-season reporting.

We are grateful for this technological support at a time of great need. Your contribution allowed us to take advantage of our summer with our youth, rather than feel depleted by our current challenges.

Story submitted by Cindy Chang, Executive Director, Groundwork

Silver Lining House

Kristi has been a resident at Silver Lining House, Providence Network’s transitional housing program for homeless young adults in Denver, for a little over one year. Like many of our residents, Kristi has been chronically homeless, living on the streets without support or accountability, since exiting the foster care system. Many of these self-described “street kids” also struggle with substance abuse and mental illness or have spent time in juvenile justice. 

Determined to make a better life for herself, Kristi registered for vocational training through a local career development partner. Like many educational programs, this curriculum is now being delivered in an entirely online format because of COVID-19. The laptops purchased through the grant from the Colorado State Youth Council have already proven instrumental in equipping the young people at Silver Lining House, like Kristi, with access to the technology they need to achieve their goals. 

Here is what Kristi shared about what she hopes to gain—and give—through this opportunity: 

I have a passion to serve others who are in poverty and don't have a clear outlet to be free from poverty. My answer is right in front of me too. I have gone through the life of being homeless  and got to know others who are homeless and women who got out of prison who are struggling to be successful. Everyone's story has a different background, but I do know that they want help. I myself have gone through some of the struggles like those and have found outlets to be free of poverty and my past. I have a driving force within me to do better. I believe in change and making an impact. With the support of the staff and my career coach they will help me change to be the person I want to be and what I want to do in my future because I believe I am capable and strong. 

We are grateful to the State Youth Council for its partnership in serving the young people at Silver Lining House as they take steps toward self-sufficiency and a more abundant future.

Story submitted by Silver Lining House staff

Mile High Youth Corps

Mile High Youth Corps’ YouthBuild Program is based on a 41-year national model and serves young adults ages 17-24 who are disconnected from school or work. The YouthBuild Construction program provides on-the-job training while meeting the state’s increasing demands for a highly-trained workforce in construction. A cohort is hired each year and enrolls in the program for a duration lasting between 6-10 months. 

Triston joined Mile High Youth Corps’ YouthBuild program as a member of the construction crew in July 2020. He left school to work so that he could help support his mom and siblings. When he joined MHYC, he was experiencing homelessness and staying at a motel. Since joining the program, he has continued to work a second job as a line cook at a restaurant downtown. He has very little expendable income because of the weekly expense of the hotel room and would not be able to afford to purchase a computer on his own to participate in a remote education program. 

Since joining the program, Triston has used his Chromebook to earn his CPR/First Aid training, OSHA-10 certification, and begin training classes toward his pre-apprenticeship certificate in construction, high school equivalency classes, career readiness and post-secondary education activities, and leadership development opportunities. Triston is already prepared to take his first GED test module, and will complete that test also using his Chromebook. Having this technology is allowing him to earn his diploma and receive training and support that will prepare him for a meaningful career. 

Story submitted by Mile High Youth Corps staff

Greeley Dream Team

The Greeley Dream Team works with a diverse student population to mentor, empower, and educate today’s youth to transition to tomorrow’s leaders. We support students in grades 6-12 to help them graduate from high school. We then follow them for a minimum for two years after graduation to ensure they are successful in college and/or are workforce ready and gainfully employed. 

Our Tech Bridge grant award from the Colorado State Youth Council allowed us to purchase five Chromebooks to support our students in their educational journeys and ensure they have the tools for workforce entry. In an effort to expand the impact of the dollars, three of the five recipients were sibling pairs who are both in the Dream Team program. Therefore, we were able to support eight students. None of the recipients had a Chromebook or laptop in their households, and we provided resources to access free and low-cost internet services. 

One of the students who received a laptop was recently diagnosed with leukemia. He lived with both of his grandparents until his grandfather passed away unexpectedly in February. The student and his grandmother were overjoyed and incredibly thankful for the laptop, because with his compromised immune system, he needed the Chromebook now more than ever. We also gave the grandmother information to aid her in accessing free internet services.

Story submitted by Greeley Dream Team staff