The AT&T ‘Cuse Digital Experience, presented by the Museum of Science and Technology, Tech4Kidz, and Syracuse University will host 110 local Syracuse City School students for a free digital literacy and STEM summer program to help address the digital divide issues in Syracuse.

AT&T, Museum of Science and Technology (MOST), Tech4Kidz, and Syracuse University have partnered to create the region’s first free digital literacy and education summer program designed to address equality issues in technology education and to help local students impacted by the digital divide. The AT&T ‘Cuse Digital Experience is designed to encourage more underserved and diverse students to enter the field of technology, an industry that has long faced a pervasive diversity gap. The program will provide more than 110 underrepresented students from Syracuse City School District in 4th through 8th grades an opportunity to gain digital literacy and readiness skills through unique technology focused immersive experiences, while encouraging them to explore a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational and career paths. The free program has been made possible by financial support and programing collaboration from AT&T as part of the company’s three-year $2 billion nationwide commitment to help bridge the digital divide and homework gap.

The AT&T ‘Cuse Digital Experience will be hosted in two parts.  The first portion of the program will be hosted by Tech4kids and professors from the Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) in collaboration with the Syracuse City School District for 80 students from 4th through 6th grades attending summer school to provide additional digital literacy learning in unique and fun hands-on-way to engage the students. The program will be hosted at Frazer PreK-8 School and Bellevue Elementary School from Aug. 1st –5th (Session 1) and Aug. 8th –12th (Session 2) from 12.00-3.00pm each day. The second part of the program will be hosted by the MOST and professors from Syracuse University’s iSchool from Monday, Aug. 22nd – Friday, Aug 26th from 9am – 3pm at the innovative museum for public school students from 6th through 8thgrades.

Over the course of the program‘s two segments, the students will learn a vast array of digital literacy skills, including cybersecurity, social media uses, computer coding basics, keyboarding skills, artificial intelligence, and finding factual news. The students will also learn how technology can be used for good and community building by creating solutions and discovering creative uses to address issues impacting youth of the region, such as digital citizenship. The AT&T ‘Cuse Digital Experience will also connect students with team-based coding projects designed to make a difference in their schools and their community, while providing them hands-on experience developing their own technology. Both programs will culminate in a digital demo day to present their final digital projects, which will feature student created avatars in the digital world addressing digital citizenship issues and how to be safe online.

To eliminate economic barriers, the program is free, and lunch, snacks and transportation are provided. To register, Syracuse area youth and their parents must fill out an application. The program is open to Syracuse City School District students in grades 6th through 8th. No previous technology experience is required.  All applicants will be notified regarding the review process and potential acceptance before the start of program.

(MOST) is a hands-on science and technology museum for all ages. The MOST hosts numerous STEM education programs and community outreach events annually and is home to 35,000 square feet of interactive permanent and traveling exhibits. The MOST’s vision is to be a preeminent science and technology center, inspiring all generations through hands-on education and entertainment.

Tech4kidz provides educator workshops, classes to kids ages 8-15 as well as engineering/coding camps during the summer. These classes promote computational thinking and provide kids with problem solving skills they will apply in all areas of school. Our goal is to engage kids in technology at an early age and make them confident users of the technology that is all around them.

Syracuse University is a private research university that advances knowledge across disciplines to drive breakthrough discoveries and breakout leadership. Its collection of 13 schools and colleges with over 200 customizable majors closes the gap between education and action, so students can take on the world. In and beyond the classroom, they connect people, perspectives, and practices to solve interconnected challenges with interdisciplinary approaches.

Digital knowledge has become the new literacy and is the driver of all new global technology. With the growing demand to innovate, organizations across various industries struggle to fill skilled positions. It’s projected that there will be 3.5 million STEM jobs in the U.S. by 2025, underscoring the importance of providing the youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy. The urgency for more diverse technology trained employees is accentuated by the low percentage of diversity make-up of the technology industry. This alarming diversity shortage in the tech industry and the growing STEM job market emphasizes the importance of providing programing like the AT&T ‘Cuse Digital Experience for youth of all backgrounds and economic situations.

AT&T’s support for this program is part of the company’s legacy of supporting educational programs focused on digital literacy and STEM disciplines in New York and is part of its ongoing commitment to digital equity through efforts that promote device access, broadband affordability, accessibility, and safe adoption for all. It builds on AT&T’s previous investments and long-standing commitment to education, in which the company has contributed more than $600 million to programs that help millions of students in underserved communities since 2008, focusing on school success and workforce readiness by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems to help students succeed and prepare them to take on 21st century careers. AT&T is committed to leveraging technology and social innovation to help give New Yorkers – regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status – the opportunity to succeed by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems that promote racial equity in academic and economic achievement.