Submitted by: Working Dreams Category: Engaging in Our Community
The Big Idea
The Working Dreams Initiative will reach out to over 10,000 Los Angeles County foster youth ages 9-18 years old to provide them with a refurbished computer or lap top. Los Angeles County has approximately 20,000 foster youth currently in the Department of Children and Family Services in "Out of Home Care"/Foster Care as of November 2010. The Digital Divide demographic factors is associated with less computer access and use, many of which are over represented among foster youth, children and families involved with Child Welfare (e.g., low income, low parent educational achievement, Hispanic or African American ethnicity). Foster children's opportunities for computer access, formal skill building and individualized practice may be further complicated by residential instability, educational discontinuity and/or special educational curricula, challenging behavior in the community and unemployment.
Through the "Working Dreams" Initiative Program, over 10,000 computers and lap tops will be donated to foster youth living and participating in a variety of non-profit agencies throughout Los Angeles County , foster group homes, residential treatment, elementary, middle and high schools, community-based center's, after care programs, emancipation programs, churches and agencies that offer educational, social and community support services. Working Dreams Initiative Program seeks to ensure that foster youth throughout Los Angeles have access to computers, lap top, internet and obtain the skills to use the Internet effectively. In addition to accessing,being exposed to computer technology and to having their own computers the youth will be given initial basic training.
The donated Working Dreams lap tops and computers will be reconfigured and will be capable of accessing the Internet as well as running basic educational software. The Working Dreams Initiative will form public/private partnerships to help level the playing field for children and adults who do not have access to technology and computer. Working Dreams will work with synagogues to donate lap tops and computers as well as work with Working Dreams to collect computers from corporate and private donors. We will identify those community agencies and partnerships within the Jewish community to teach computer basics such as the Windows operating system. In addition, teach internet safety and computer security and privacy.
The junior high and high school age student's core program teaching will include productivity programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Freshman College Bound Foster Youth with the odds stacked so high against them, Working Dreams is committed to providing lap tops to help these emancipated youth have a smoother, more successful transition to college. Working Dreams will provide college-bound foster youth with a personal refurbished laptop computer and training. These youth are required to meet strict academic requirements, be enrolled in college, and attend a workshop on using their computer. In the technology age in which we live a computer is no longer optional when it comes to academic success it is mandatory. Emancipated foster youth entering the workforce in the Information Age will be at a disadvantage if they are not technologically literate. Thus it is imperative for Working Dreams to provide freshman college bound emancipated youth computers.
To enhance the lives of foster and at risk youth through modern technology by building a sense of academic and life achievement through awareness, advocacy, community-based support services and computer technology. Working Dreams commits to prepare foster and at risk youth for a productive adulthood through technology and life skills education. In Los Angeles , we face formidable obstacles in realizing our dreams of eradicating poverty, educating those less fortunate and most importantly building and strengthening bridges between the Jewish communities and disenfranchised communities, a higher consciousness of social responsibility towards giving and investing in the at risk communities. To do so we have to bring together individuals who embrace these goals and build alliances with disenfranchised communities such as those in Los Angeles. Working Dreams will work with foster youth in conjunction with synagogues,corporations, schools and individuals to collect and distribute computers to foster youth. This will be a countywide partnership through resources, empowerment and building communication between foster youth and the Jewish community. Working Dreams will give foster youth growing up today the best chances to succeed, they must develop technological literacy.
The establishment of a solid skill foundation in the tools of the Information Age, including basic fluency using computers for writing, calculating, communicating, and locating and recalling data, typically requires both formal and informal learning experiences coupled with opportunities for direct contact with computers and digital appliances. Access to functional computers with appropriate software is critical, as is the utilization of available opportunities to practice new skills and build confidence. By providing foster youth access to computers throughout Los Angeles County, the following are the Working Dreams Initiative Program Goals: To improve grades To improve self esteem To enhance technological access To improve technology literacy skills, job skills and a variety of life skills preparation instruction.
In recent years, attention has increasingly focused on issues such as youth crime and violence, substance abuse, gangs, school dropouts, academic performance, and other issues associated with "at-risk youth and foster youth." Common sense and years of research suggest that foster youth have multiple needs and interrelated problem behaviors that are not likely to be successfully addressed by single-response, stand-alone initiatives. The expected impact that the Working Dreams Initiative would have on the Jewish community would be the ability to connect the disenfranchised youth with the Jewish communities, synagogues, corporations, Schools, Jewish families and individuals. By providing over 10,000 computers and lap tops to children that have zero and or limited access to technology, the Jewish communities work with us to empowering a whole generation of foster youth through access to technology.
This Is A Great Idea Because
Working Dreams is most innovative because of its ability to do something that no one else has done with foster youth in Los Angeles. Provide technology to over 10,000 foster youth through donated computer and lap tops. It is innovative because foster youth living in Los Angeles do not get an opportunity to be a part of the bridge between culturals. The are often isolated and live in areas that are clearly African American or Lation, in majority. So this project will assist in bridging the gap between the Jewish community and their improvised communities. With out this innovation these are the statistics: 1 out of every 5 of our Nation's foster children lives in California.
Less than 5% of foster youth graduate/complete high school 65% of California's foster youth face imminent homelessness. 3 out of every 10 of our Nation's homeless are former foster youth. 70% of foster youth dream of going to college & less than 3% actually make it. Rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among foster care alumni are up to twice the rate of US war veterans who faced combat. 83% of children in foster care are held back in school by 3rd grade and 75% are working below grade level. 35% of foster youth have experienced four or more school changes and each school move results in a six month loss of educational progress. 51% are unemployed at age 22. We cannot afford as a community to not give these foster youth an opportunity to bridge the gap between those that can have access to technology and those that do not have access. These are the voiceless youth. Computers and access to the internet are fundamental to a child's education. But what about families who can't afford a computer, like the children who are in the foster care system throughout Los Angeles and the United States?