By Paul Westermeyer
Staff Reporter | Pontiac Daily Leader
The ever-increasing prominence of the STEAM initiative is usually thought to only encompass or concern schools. But on the local level, the local after-school Boys & Girls Club of Livingston County program has made it an extracurricular activity as well.
On Wednesday, the Boys & Girls Club received eight laptops from Advanced Technology Recycling free of charge, a donation facilitated by the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council.
“What we were looking to do when starting the STEAM program was to appeal to the high school students at the Boys & Girls Club,” said Jodi Martin, the interim chief executive officer of the local youth organization.
“We were brainstorming about ways in which we could recruit teens into the Boys & Girls Club at Fairbury and in Pontiac. So we got in touch with (GLCEDC CEO Adam Dontz) and he reached out to ATR and helped get this setup for us.”
On the importance of technology to the Boys & Girls Club’s broader mission, Martin said that while the national organization was trending in this direction, it was still fairly new on the local level.
“It’s been prevalent across Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States to now focus on the three key priority outcomes, which are academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles,” she explained.
“Within that goal of academic success, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America has 98 programs. But what’s been different here is that we haven’t accessed that much in the past, and now we’re seeing what it takes to be more successful.”
As evidence of STEAM being crucial for a flourishing academic environment, Martin referenced the tech-savvy culture of the junior high students of Pontiac School District 429. Last month, Pontiac Junior High School STEAM teacher Christine Chiodo told the Daily Leader that PJHS was one of 98 schools chosen for the state’s “Students for the Information Age” TECH 2018 event. The PJHS STEAM program also received similar assistance from the GLCEDC.
Martin expressed gratitude to both ATR, for the donation, and to Dontz, for facilitating the gift.
“If it weren’t for Adam and the GLCEDC, we wouldn’t have these laptops,” she said. “He’s really the reason this is happening, and it’s really great that ATR very generously donated to help us kick this off.”
For his part, Dontz commented that the GLCEDC helping out the Boys and Girls Club was in line with his organization’s goals of ensuring a workforce that could readily meet the job market of the future.
“Increasing the knowledge and skills of youth in our area is a critical component to ensuring the the longevity of a high quality workforce,” he said. “The GLCEDC is currently working with the Boys and Girls Club to promote their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programming and we approached one of our members, Advanced Technology Recycling, and requested a donation of laptop computers to help the Boys and Girls Club.
“I’m deeply appreciative of ATR’s generosity and the Club’s commitment to advancing its program offerings.”