Opening doors. Creating pathways. Providing a future. 

These are just some of the major benefits of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago’s partnership with Apple, according to Fannieleah Brown, Program Director of BGCC’s employment program – Great Opportunities (GO).

“Coding is key to the next level in any career," Brown said. “Whatever pathway that our youth or young adults choose, coding will have a part of that future."

Thanks to Apple, BGCC now has more than $300,000 worth of Apple products, ranging from iPads to MacBook laptops to iMacs. These products will be distributed to Clubs across the city through a robust STEM-focused curriculum.

In addition to products, Apple provided licenses to their software programs. This allows students access to software that will enhance their skills on each piece of new technology.

Jonathan Rodriguez, BGCC Technology Program Manager, will lead the charge with a revamped program focused on five categories for Club members. Those include: digital literacy (understanding the device), keyboarding (ensuring basic skills), digital citizenship (learning how to be safe online), computer programming (gaining all types of coding skills), and digital arts (creating digital media and digital art).

“When many transitioned to remote learning last year, no one really considered giving training on the devices themselves. With that, another barrier was created for so many kids,” Rodriguez said. “With this program, we hope to lift that burden. Technology is already a vital part of our lives, but we want to dig deeper. We want to make sure all kids are able to adapt to their new environments, whether it be high school, college or the workforce.”

The GO Program has already been using the Apple products through a partnership with the Chicago Youth Service Corp. Two groups from the GO Program have used them for two different skill sets: app development, and video filming and editing.

In the accelerated app program, teams designed three different apps that are now available in Apple’s App Store. One group created a way to find accessible food resources (312Pantry). Another took on mental health, offering mental health tools for young adults (Nuu Muun). The final app created a pocket plant care partner, which helps users take care of their plants (SeeGreen).

The individuals who participated in the app program learned about coding, augmented reality and how to build a project from start to finish.

Additionally, a group of Club members were part of an internship with 247HH, a digital video content platform. The participants learned about digital marketing, filming, scouting and communication skills. The filming and editing projects were all created using Apple products.

"I've learned a lot about digital marketing, production, as well as being able to scout out different artists and new music," BGCC participant Gournie F. said. "What I discovered with these Apple products, is that I could do so much more as a creator." 

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