CTEP Americorps members present their exciting final projects
Every year, 30 CTEP AmeriCorps members serve across Saint Paul and Minneapolis teaching about technology literacy for social, civic and economic empowerment with low-income families, New Americans, and residents with disabilities. As a part of their service, members choose civic engagement projects where they work in teams of 3-5 to make a contribution to bridging the digital divide. The issue selected for the project relates to community technology in some way. Projects also involve meeting with community stakeholders to confirm that project is responding to community needs. Finally, projects are a lasting contribution; something that will continue to be in motion even after the AmeriCorps members finish their year.
This year, members presented their projects to the public at the Amherst A. Wilder Foundation in Saint Paul. Over 80 community partners and community members joined CTEP on August 3rd. Projects, and the public presentation of projects, aim to help CTEP members gain the skills and experience to become more civically engaged in their communities while serving in AmeriCorps, with the intention that this experience will lead to increased community involvement in their future life.
Projects this year included:
- Open Source programming for 3D Printers
- CyberHeroes, a program targeting reduction of online cyber bullying
- Piloting North Star Digital Literacy Assessments
- Creating Murals in Community Technology Centers
- Making Technology Literacy Collaborative (TLC) more relevant
- Summer Youth Gaming Camps
- Research on Best Practices for Computer Literacy Instruction
Project groups had 15 minutes to present on their projects and answer questions from the public. Many groups, although successful, had interesting experiences to learn from. The CyberHeroes civic engagement project, for example, worked hard to establish an online art contest asking middle school and high school youth to show how they used technology in a positive way. Two laptops were donated by Minnesota Computers for Schools as prizes. The CyberHeroes project members reflected on their experience: “Our goal for wrapping up the contest was to host a prize ceremony where the two winners were given laptops in front of sponsoring organizations and local public officials. This goal was not achieved due to challenges in gaining contest entries and the expansion of the contest deadline. We were, however, able to meet with one of the contest winners and successfully gift them their laptop.” The CyberHeroes group successfully created an informative and resource filled website addressing cyberbulling that can be found here: cyberheroes.moonfruit.com
To ensure CTEP members are prepared to complete their projects, members receive civic engagement training during professional development Corps days. They are given time to develop and carry out their civic engagement project as part of their service hours, averaging about 75 hours per member, including time for training and planning during Corps days. At the end of the project, CTEP members understand how to work collectively to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate a community action project. CTEP staff assist in providing some tools and structure, but CTEP members are responsible for the success of the project.