Wednesday, February 4, 2009

BDPA Hartford Chapter Partners with State of Connecticut on Computer Learning Program

From An Idea to a Reality
by Matthew Lampkin

Who would have ever imagined that a brief, informal conversation would turn into an annual learning opportunity of great proportions? Well, that brief conversation between Charles Kinard of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Matthew Lampkin of the BDPA Hartford Chapter created the DCF\BDPA Computer Learning Program.

Entering its 4th year of existence, the program has grown exponentially. "When Charles and I first spoke over 4 years ago, he had a vision of providing the youth of DCF with a valuable skill set which they could use and apply after high school," recalls BDPA Hartford chapter vice president Matthew Lampkin.

With that goal in mind, BDPA has been a perfect fit for the youth of DCF. BDPA is a community organization made up of adult IT professionals, college students, and high school students who have a keen interest in Information Technology (IT). One of the main goals of BDPA is to educate youth on IT and provide them with the necessary "soft" skills to help them go "From the Classroom to the Boardroom."

Ten (10) DCF youth were trained in the first year of the Computer Learning Program using one of the chapter's existing education programs. Three (3) of these young people displayed dedication and worked hard enough to earn an all-expense paid trip to attend the 2006 BDPA Technology National Conference in Los Angeles.

The Computer Learning Program evolved in 2007 to provide more participation by the youth of DCF. DCF headquarters, in the capitol city of Hartford, became "training central" for the program. Seven (7) of the young people attended the 2007 National BDPA Technology Conference in Washington DC.

The young people in this program learn an array of skills such as exploring and understanding computer hardware, developing websites using HTML, and using Microsoft Office. Over the past three years more than 40 students have been trained successfully. In 2008, more than 20 students received laptops for their completion of the program from the State of Connecticut.

The upcoming year of 2009 promises to be a great year for the youth. They will have the opportunity to learn about digital music production in addition to gaining more core IT skills. Youth who excel in the program will have the chance to be rewarded for their hard work. In addition, BDPA Hartford will be working hard with some of its corporate partners to try and place those exemplary students in summer internship positions that utilize their newly-acquired Information Technology skills.

As Mr. Kinard has said, "It's time for the program to go to the next level."

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