Washtenaw Community College receives $60k grant for digital literacy, laptops for youth summer camp

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Youth attending a Washtenaw Community College Ypsilanti summer camp will be treated to new laptops and family digital literacy training thanks to a $60,000 grant secured by the college.

The grant was announced on Friday by WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca in the Parkridge Community Center during a ceremony on the last day of the camp, according to a release.

Bellanca was joined at the ceremony by state Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and Rep. Ronnie Peterson, D-Ypsilanti, who secured the funding.

The Washtenaw County Youth Development grant provides funds for connecting underserved youth and parents with technology to build digital literacy skills. Student campers can receive laptops if they, and their families, attend basic computer skills training at Parkridge Community Center, the release said.

Through the funding, the center is set to become a technology support hub for learning.

“We are committed to supporting our community families by creating pathways for learning and success and are proud to announce this new grant thanks to the advocacy work of Sen. Irwin and Rep. Peterson,” Bellanca said in the release. “Our programming efforts have shown a big need for basic digital literacy skills both for children in school and for adults in the workplace.”

In the fall, WCC will gather information about the digital literacy needs of community members, which will help the college tailor future training modules.

Future programming for Parkridge Community Center and the Harriett Street Community Center, WCC’s two Ypsilanti locations, is set to focus on college and career readiness. The Ann Arbor area community college secured an additional $130,000 for those programs, the release said.

“For over two decades we have provided programming at these two locations. Our new focus is being initiated after hearing from community members and local leaders that more was needed to help individuals and families on their pathway to education and careers,” said WCC associate vice president for workforce and community development Brandon Roderick Tucker.

The year’s in-person camp served 27 attendees ranging from ages six to 12 and featured three certified teachers, STEM activities, a drone mini camp and Youth Art Alliance programming.

The camp refocused on academics after being held virtually in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the release said.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.