YMCA offers tech training to Martha’s Vineyard youth


Through the Alexandra Gagnon Teen Center, the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard is offering an exciting new program to boost the technological proficiency of young Islanders and the people around them. Called Digital Connectors, the program “identifies talented young people, immerses them in technology training, and helps them build their leadership and workplace skills to enter the 21st century economy,” according to the website of One Economy, the creator of the program. “One Economy recognizes not only the natural affinity for technology among young people, but also their potential for spreading technology knowledge and creating a culture of use in their neighborhoods.”

The Y encourages young Islanders between the age of 14 and 21 to apply for the program, which is intended for those who might not have access to the technological training and equipment that would prepare them for the contemporary workforce. “Today’s youth just can’t compete in today’s workforce without access to technology and information,” said Ray Whitaker, site coordinator and instructor of the program.

Starting on October 4 and running through June 22, 2012, the program includes 156 hours of training in classes that will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 pm, along with 56 hours of community service. Vacation and holidays will match the school calendar.

The community service component is central to the mission of Digital Connectors. After students have been trained, they are expected to pay forward by passing on what they learn to their families, friends, and communities.

Still, the principal beneficiaries are the students themselves, who can expect to jump-start their entrance in the workforce by increasing their computer and Internet knowledge; promoting technology in their community; learning life skills and entrepreneurship; receiving a Cisco Certificate of Completion in IT Essentials, PC Hardware and Software; receiving an Ever-Fi Financial certificate; and building a multi-media portfolio

Digital Connectors is free, thanks to a grant from the Comcast Foundation, which supports the Y’s efforts to help children and teens “explore their unique talents and interests, helping them reach their potential,” according to a Y press release. “That makes for confident kids today and contributing and engaged adults tomorrow.”

One Economy is a global nonprofit organization that has started hands-on programs that deliver the power of technology and information to low-income people in 42 states in this country as well as in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

Applications for the Digital Connectors program are available at the Y, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, and all Island elementary schools. Applications must be submitted to the Member Service desk at the Y before Thursday, September 22. Entrance interviews for all applicants will start the following week. The program is limited to 20 participants.

For more information, call Ray Whitaker or Tony Lombardi at the Y, 508-696-7171, ext. 128.