More than ever children need adequate technology and leadership development. Not long ago, a kid’s computer was mostly just fun. Now, it’s a necessity!
With that in mind, AT&T, Western New York, United, and Mission Ignite teamed up to support WNY United Leadership in Training Public School Program (LIT), with funding from AT&T, to provide every one of their students with a computer.
Seventy students who successfully graduated were gifted a free computer, helping to bridge the digital divide while closing the homework gap. WNY United’s Leaders in Training Summer Program is designed to help under-resourced students from four regional school districts stay connected. The computers have been provided by local tech nonprofit, Mission: Ignite, made possible through support from AT&T and Digitunity.
The LIT Program focuses on leadership and life skills development, as well as learning about substance use prevention. Participants are in the program for two years, committing to seminars and community service-learning projects. This year’s Leaders in Training program included students from Buffalo Public Schools and students from Maryvale, Frontier, and Lake Shore School Districts.
“What a wonderful day to be an LIT student! WNY United is thrilled to work collaboratively with Mission Ignite and AT&T to provide this amazing opportunity for our LIT students,” said Beth Anzalone, Executive Director of WNY United. “Providing computers for all our eligible participants and their families is helping to bridge the technology gap for our community.”
“Our commitment to narrowing the digital divide and homework gap includes ensuring that learners have the connectivity, knowledge, and the devices critical to success,” said Kevin Hanna, Director of External Affairs at AT&T. “Through our work with Digitunity and Mission: Ignite, we will be able to help thousands of underserved students and their families throughout WNY get access to free computers and training resources that are vital for online learning success.”
“It takes teamwork to make things possible for our communities,” stated Christine Carr-Barmasse, Executive Director of Mission: Ignite. “As a longtime summer partner with WNY United, Mission: Ignite is honored to help invest in students who are preparing for their future by providing each student from this graduating class a computer for their home use, which we know will help with their continued learning .”
LIT Students share their excitement about the donation.
“It’s great what you can do with a computer because you’re very limited when you only have pocket devices. Our house only has an iPad and a cell phone,” said Albert Huang, a LIT student. “I want to learn more about editing movies, and this computer will help.”
“I’m very excited. I’ll be able to do research for science projects on the computer,” said Adam Budniewski, a LIT student. “I want to research and learn about the world because I want to travel the world when I grow up.”
AT&T digital equity initiative that worked with Digitunity selected Mission: Ignite as part of a national 10-city project to provide 2,000 refurbished computers over a two-year span to students and families throughout Western New York.
“The excitement in the room was palpable, as the students walked in the room and gazed upon the boxes of their computers,” said Aaron Iannello, Mission Ignite Operations Director. “One thing is for sure, students know they need technology to succeed.”
Lead image: At Lorraine Elementary – left side: Lori Brown, Aaron Jones, Adam Budniewski, Aubrey Russillo, Tara Contrath, Albert Huang, Isabella Smukall. Right side: Lorinda Sekanvich and Samantha Shaul, Sharon Richardson, Aniyah Horn, Tierney Thompson, Crystal Sorrell, NauJalinna Mitchell, Elliott Mook