Computers For Youth

A new organization has set up shop in Atlanta: Computers for Youth, a New York-based nonprofit that provides computers and training for low-income sixth graders and their parents. The nonprofit, co-founded in 1999 by Elisabeth Stock, last year provided equipment to 2,700 families in New York, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Although at press time Compu-ters for Youth had just begun the search for an executive director in Atlanta, it already is serving metro area families. Last spring the organization distributed computers to kids at L.J. Price Middle School.

Once a school is selected, all families of sixth graders are invited to attend a family learning workshop at the school, where they receive training to help them use the computer and the educational software that comes with it.

The events are quite a draw for both parents and students; Stock says more than 100 families showed up at Price Middle School to receive the training. “People at the school said they’d never had that kind of turnout before,” she says.

Stock says Computers for Youth focuses on sixth graders because that’s such a crucial time for kids. “That’s the year when kids start to tell their parents to back off, not to kiss them, to walk on the other side of the street and not to help with their homework,” she points out. “But that’s also the year when homework gets appreciably more difficult, so that’s the year you really want to stay plugged in as a parent. We’re trying to equip parents to be more confident in helping their children and to influence how they interact around learning at home.”

The organization also provides professional development for teachers, to help them bring families back to the school for additional training. “To help a child do better in school, we need to give that child an opportunity but also help their parents and teachers,” Stock says. “Those are the most important adults in a child’s life, and if you help them you have an enormous impact on the child.”

Stock, an engineer with a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former Peace Corps volunteer, says Atlanta was an ideal expansion choice for Computers for Youth. “There is a discernible need here, in terms of poverty,” she says. “And Atlanta is a corporate hub with a big base of computers, which means donations will be available. Plus, we really focus on a family approach to learning and people here understand family.” – Kenna Simmons

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