" If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." - An African Proverb
COMMUNITY TECHNOLOGY START-UP CORPS
A Brief History - Laying the foundation
CTSC began in June 1998, at Morton East High School in Cicero, Illinois. Known as the Cyber Service, the program started with six students and 100 donated computers. In the first year, students learned how to rebuild computers and keep records while providing more than 40 computers for Morton East High School and “Inside a computer” demonstrations for the school’s Computer Applications classes.
In the summer of 1999, Cyber Service students launched the Free Community Computer Program, where the Cyber Service provided free computers and instruction to the Cicero Youth Commission and Cicero Boys & Girls Club. The student members of the Cyber Service expanded this free program to ten community sites, serving hundreds of community children by July 2001.
In July 2000, Cyber Service students went global, bringing 15 computers and training to Durango, Mexico. In June 2001, the students did it again, expanding their services to 100 computers and 10 students, educating more than 250 Mexican children. This second trip enabled Cyber Service to distribute computers to more than twenty schools, with many schools receiving their first computers.
The second CTSC, the Lake View Tech Service (LVTS), was launched in March 2001 at Lake View High School. By July 2001, the LVTS has supplied computers and instruction to three community after-school programs on Chicago’s North Side. The service taught more than 40 students and refurbished 50 computers.
As the 2001 – 2002 school year begins, a third CTSC, the Curie High School Cyber Service, is just forming.
The Morton East Cyber Service has assisted the Lake View Tech Service with computers and instruction. Both Morton East Cyber Service and Lake View Tech Service are helping the Curie High School Cyber Service get started.
THE FUNDRAISING JOURNEY UNFOLDS
In 2008, a new board member of the Youth Technology Corps - YTC, a non-profit organization in Chicago at the epicenter of the technology revolution and community impact named Andy Thomas - Executive at W.W Grainger, who was a very successful businessman, worked for a major corporation in the United States, retired and first joined the board and then became Chairman of the Board of YTC. He was the one who opened up and helped start the club in 2009 in Evanston. YTC originally started as Cyber Service in 1998 in Cicero, Illinois. What he did, essentially, was first he raised money and got one foundation to support this fundraiser. It is a family foundation that started out in the first two years, and the foundation gave YTC $10,000 each year and then $5,000 a year for another eight years. He also brought in some board members, and so we hired instructors, and basically, we had different spaces to operate. At one point we actually had a classroom in a different location. But basically, he was there to mentor, support and lead the kids who were part of the club at the time and accomplished different milestones besides donating computers. There were two, what we called Section eight or government-subsidized senior citizen buildings in Evanston. PIMMS Senior Center is one. YTC started in the common rooms, with groups of computers, and then Andy Thomas went in and taught the seniors how to use the internet and how to better use the computers.
The Era of Summer Camps
In 2009 the students from the group started participating in our computer projects in South Carolina. And that was during the summer. It was a one-week trip in which I brought kids from Evanston and also from the Chicago programs and more. We took them to South Carolina, where they spread out and worked with five schools in rural areas they delivered computers and worked with local students in refurbishing the computers, and then ended. I brought them together at the major university for a final presentation, and that project was funded by Office Max in the first year. YTC summer camp started officially in 2000 and ended in 2008 which involved missions to Mexico.
Office Max Grant sponsorship towards YTC activities.
Office Max sponsored us with a grant of $50,000 to go along with setting up that trip. It paid for more than the trip and took care of the administration of YTC. It was a short one-year relationship, but it was a $50,000 grant, which was a good chunk of money. Let me see they also began donating computers, and somewhere we have a list of all the different places they've donated over the years, but they also held a computer one-week camp at one of the elementary schools in which they taught the students how to refurbish a computer.
In 2016, six of the students including Josh James, the son of the current board chair of Youth Technology Corps (YTC), Angela James Ph.D., and I met during this trip where we took six students and laptops that they had refurbished to New Orleans.
Impact Story till Date - YTC over the years in ETHS, Chicago, and beyond.
We took six students to travel across the U.S. They took six laptops, and we connected with a church that had a whole room full of desktops that had been given to the students. And they didn't know what to do with it and the computers were just piled up in a room we have in Evanston. One day, six Evanston students processed all 45 computers. There were like 45 computers to start with, and they refurbished and set up 40 of them.
The church lab had 30 computers, and then we took 10 of the desktops along with the laptops and brought them to a charter school, called adinkra charter school. The students spent the entire day with the kids at that school and the teachers showed them how to use their new computers because they basically brought them five laptops and 10 desktops and held some rudimentary classes on what's inside a computer for all the kids.
Some illustrious graduates from ETHS impacted and added value to YTC. Alex Balmer and Richard Balmer. Alex Balmer was a committed member, a senior, and a student president of ETHS in 2016. He received a four-year fully paid scholarship at IIT and has since finished his master's degree at IIT and is involved in a startup in the tech industry.
In May 2016, Northwestern students helped YTC run a computer refurbishing seminar for middle school students at mason park on how computers work and also explored community grant opportunities from Evanston Lighthouse rotary club.
Quiver river state park became a safe space for summer camp, with 85 students learning about Arduino and how to use solve problems using these skills from 2011 to 2019.