The Comcast Foundation announced today that it has awarded $92,000 in digital leadership grants to the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and East Liberty-based Small Seeds. The grants, to be presented at the Xfinity Stage on Smithfield Street during Light Up Night festivities Nov. 20, support programs aimed at empowering Pittsburgh’s youth through technology and leadership training.
Comcast and National Urban League are longstanding partners, and the Foundation is presenting the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh with a three-year, $75,000 grant to support its Techo Teens program, a game development program that engages tech-savvy high school youth in year-round programming.
The Techno Teens program features youth development learning objectives relevant to game development, career exploration of the computer/technology industry, and opportunities to interact with professionals in the local game development and STEM fields. Techno Teens is listed as a “best practice for career exploration” by the Penn State University Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Since its inception in 2003, Techno Teens has served more than 300 students and anticipates acceleration of its impact by increasing outreach to students from Allegheny County middle and high schools in 2016.
“Comcast has exhibited foresight and leadership in continuing to foster Techno Teens, a program which gets African American youth into the nitty gritty of technology,” said Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Vice President for Programs & Services Monique McIntosh. “For example, this year the participants will be working with Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute staff, learning the computer programming language, and writing programs for some of the robots. This kind of exposure and hands-on experience has a profound impact on orienting and attracting youth to the science and tech fields, where minority and disadvantaged populations have been enormously under-represented.”
Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh President & CEO Esther L. Bush agreed. “Comcast demonstrates that they understand it takes time, talent and treasure to impact disparity,” she said. “We are proud to have them as a partner.”
The Comcast Foundation is presenting Small Seeds with a one-year, $17,000 grant to support its Teen Digital Empowerment Project aimed at self-awareness, empowerment and community engagement.
Currently serving more than 300 students, the Teen Digital Empowerment Project will equip participants to think more critically about their lives and their community and will incorporate robust digital media and digital literacy components during a concentrated 10-week summer program. Trained staff will instruct teens in a variety of essential digital skills, including teaching them to become responsible digital citizens, discerning users of the Internet, and how digital media can facilitate self-expression and advocacy. Participants will also develop skills in resume writing, interviewing, and job searching through information sessions with area employers such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PNC Bank, Comcast, and Bayer.
“Rules, relationships, digital literacy and collaboration make sense for our youth and families, and we appreciate the Comcast Foundation’s support of our efforts,” said Andrew Cheeseboro, Small Seeds CEO.
Said Lisa Birmingham, vice president of government and external affairs for Comcast’s Keystone Region, “Comcast is proud to award these grants to Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and Small Seeds to prepare Pittsburgh’s youth for their role in our digital world. The tireless work of these organizations to bridge the digital divide is incredibly important, and we thank them for helping to make Pittsburgh a better place to call home.”
In addition to the grants from the Comcast Foundation, Comcast also responds to community needs through local sponsorships and in-kind support, such as airing public service announcements, employee volunteerism, and providing technology equipment and services to organizations across the country.