Mayor Harp Ushers in a Brand New Boys & Girls Club

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It’s a simple fact: Communities can be strengthened with broad Internet access.

Comcast’s development of Internet Essentials expands the boundaries of digital literacy for families and future generations. With this service, there’s a wider opportunity for sustainable success in a job market demanding of current and applicable skills involving technology.

The New Haven Boys & Girls Club is the city’s latest beneficiary of this series receiving a renovation for digital and visual upgrades.

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A grand opening at the Club on Fri., Dec. 11 ushered in a modern approach of learning at New Haven’s tenured organization. New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, former member of the club, spoke at the event about the necessity to reduce the digital divide in the Elm City.

“One of things we worry about so much in this day in age is the digital divide,” said Mayor Toni Harp. “The fact that young people in this community can come to the Boys & Girls Club and have access to computers is crucial.

“We have to make sure the digital divide is closed. This area is going to make such a difference in the lives of our children.”

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Comcast’s $25,000 grant toward the newly branded Center of Innovation, with additional funding from NewAlliance Foundation, will enhance the existing technology center on Columbus Avenue. The center now includes a smart TV with surround sound, 20 iMacs, 10 iPad minis, cameras and fresh paint, among other improvements.

“We can challenge participants to critical thinking skills, to problem solve and communicate effectively and to prepare our kids with the skills they need for a future in the workforce,” said Stephanie Barnes, the Boys & Girls Club’s executive director. “We are extremely grateful to Comcast Universal and excited about the new opportunities that await our Club members.”

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Over 200 New Haven area youths are estimated to gain access to the center’s upgrades using the latest technology offered to better prepare for an evolving job market. The newly acquired resources from the project will further club member’s skill-building and project-based programs.

Kelsey Perez, the 2015 Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, spoke about the assistance the renovated center can now provide to her and classmates at New Haven Academy and other local schools.

“This new technology is very important, especially to high school students because it will help us get our school work done and make sure we do what is needed to be successful in life,” said Perez, who aspires to have a future in the medical field.

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Comcast’s Kristen Roberts approached Barnes and her staff this March about what the club needed. This was the beginning of a nine-month project that closed the facility for seven weeks of construction.

The center’s assembly came together as a community-influenced project with the Yale School of Architecture facilitating the floor planning.

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