LIFE Camp Inc. teams up with AT&T to create internship program for southeast Queens youth to gain digital literacy skills

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LIFE Camp Inc. and AT&T announced a partnership to provide digital literacy programming for youth in southeast Queens at a press conference held outside of LIFE Camp’s office in Jamaica on Thursday, Jan. 5. (Photo courtesy of LIFE Camp Inc.)

LIFE Camp Inc. on Jan. 5 announced a $25,000 donation from AT&T to expand their work with teenagers in southeast Queens to provide digital literacy programming and help bridge the digital divide within the community, while promoting digital equity. 

Since its founding in 2002, Life Camp has supported youth and young adults with opportunities that otherwise they would not have realized. By providing individuals with intensive case management, mentorship, access to education, employment opportunities and therapeutic services, these methods have reduced violence and their interactions with the criminal justice system. 

The new collaboration with AT&T will provide funding to expand these programs with paid internships to over a dozen teenagers with a focus on digital literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) financial literacy and community beautification education to prepare the students impacted by the digital divide for the technology jobs of tomorrow. 

“Giving youth and young adults the opportunities to set themselves on the path to a bright future is why I founded LIFE Camp and I am thankful to AT&T for allowing us to expand digital literacy programing to individuals who need them most,” said Erica Ford, founder of LIFE Camp Inc. “As society opens back up after COVID-19, we have to make these opportunities even more apparent to ensure no one is left behind as our society recovers.” 

(Photo courtesy of LIFE Camp Inc.)

The new digital literacy and STEM curriculum will be added to LIFE Camp’s programs, teaching youth seeking extra support basic computer literacy skills, culminating in a project where they put what they have learned into practice utilizing various coding skills. 

Thanks to AT&T, participants will receive a stipend of $15 dollars an hour, paid bi-weekly for time spent participating in the program. 

“AT&T is thrilled to work with LIFE Camp Inc. to provide access to digital and financial literacy for southeast Queens. This work is a reflection of our commitment to help address the digital divide and connect students and their families to the skills, tools and resources they need to succeed in a digital world,” said Timothy Tapia, regional director, external affairs for AT&T New York.

Programs like this new digital literacy initiative are important because digital knowledge is quickly becoming the new literacy and is the driver of all new global technology. With the growing demand to innovate, organizations across various industries struggle to fill skilled positions. It’s projected that there will be 3.5 million STEM and digital jobs in the U.S. by 2025, underscoring the importance of providing youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy — especially those in underserved and underrepresented communities. 

The urgency for more diverse technology-trained employees is accentuated by the low percentage of diverse people entering the technology industry. This alarming diversity shortage in the tech industry and the growing STEM job market emphasizes the importance of providing programming like the work announced today by Life Camp and AT&T. AT&T’s support for this program is part of the company’s $2 billion nationwide commitment to help bridge the digital divide.

Southeast Queens lawmakers, such as Senator Leroy Comrie and Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, applauded the partnership between LIFE Camp Inc. and AT&T to help youth and young adults gain critical digital literacy skills to help obtain tech education and jobs through paid education internships. 

“We all gain when we make investments in our young people. That is why I applaud LIFE Camp and AT&T for joining in partnership to increase digital literacy and prepare youth for the opportunities of tomorrow,” Comrie said. “I know the significant contributions LIFE Camp makes to expanding the horizons of our young people; this new partnership means many more will be well equipped for the careers of the future.” 

Vanel expressed gratitude to LIFE Camp Inc. and AT&T for their leadership and dedication to uplifting the people of southeast Queens through the power of education and technology. 

“The partnership between LIFE Camp and AT&T is a shining example of what can be achieved when we come together to address a pressing need in our community,” Vanel said. “The donation of $25,000 from AT&T will provide vital resources for computer literacy training and technology education to the residents of southeast Queens, empowering them to thrive in an increasingly digital world. This is more than just a financial investment — it is a commitment to the future success and prosperity of our community.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. thanked AT&T for recognizing not only LIFE Camp’s critical work, but also the youth they’re serving with the generous donation. 

“I’m thrilled LIFE Camp has partnered with AT&T to expand their digital literacy program, which will help them keep up their impactful mission to empower Queens youth by providing them the tools they need to succeed,” Richards said.