ESNC, New Beginnings join to teach youth info technology

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Dion Banks of the Eastern Shore Network for Change (ESNC) is seen with Executive Director of New Beginnings Youth and Family Services Dr. Theresa Stafford on June 18 before a civil rights march in Cambridge. ESNC donated more than $1,000 to New Beginnings for computer science instruction.

CAMBRIDGE — The Eastern Shore Network for Change (ESNC) donated $1,001.52 to New Beginnings Youth and Family Services to buy 25 Raspberry Pi computer science teaching kits, to be used in a coding camp focused on African-American youth. “We’re so grateful to them,” Executive Director Dr. Theresa Stafford said on June 18.
“It’s all about community partnership,” said Dion Banks, who with Kisha Petticolas leads ESNC.

Minorities in the computer science career field are grossly under represented, Dr. Stafford wrote in an email to Mr. Banks. The National Science Foundation indicates, “36.4% of the United States is non-white, only about 18% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science go to non-white students.” Of this 18%, less than 5% are African American.
Dr. Stafford wrote, “We at New Beginnings have an opportunity to inspire economically challenged students to consider this career field as a viable option for their future. With the purchase of 20-25 Raspberry Pi Zero kits students will be exposed to coding, writing a program using Python, electronics, and physical computing.

“Your donation will support the purchase of the Raspberry Pi Zero kits. Oliver McKinney, a student at Wilmington College pursuing a degree in Computer and Network Security, will teach this course. This will be the primary focus for our summer program but will continue during the school year as well.”
The kits are one of the products offered by Raspberry Pi. They feature computer parts, allowing students to become acquainted with the inner workings of digital devices.

“The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. We do this so that more people are able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively,” a statement on Raspberry Pi’s website says. “We engage millions of young people in learning computing and digital making skills through a thriving network of clubs and events, and through partnerships with youth organisations. We enable any school to offer students the opportunity to study computing and computer science through providing the best possible curriculum, resources, and training for teachers. We work to deepen our understanding of how young people learn about computing and digital making, and to use that knowledge to increase the impact of our own work and to advance the field of computing education. We make computing and digital making accessible to all through providing low-cost, high-performance single-board computers and free software.”

New Beginnings Youth and Family Services has been active in Cambridge since January, 2016. The organization plans and develops educational, recreational, and cultural activities for after-school and summer programs, coordinating activities with families who live in subsidized housing.”