Boys & Girls Clubs Bridging Tech Gap

Proceeds from Excellence Awards program will help support organization's efforts.

As eWEEK honors the technology gains provided by this years Excellence Awards program winners, we believe its also important to laud and support organizations that use technology to serve our nations young people and to ensure technology access for all. Each year, eWEEK donates proceeds from the Excellence Awards program to such organizations. This year, we will donate $45,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, apportioned equally among clubhouses in New York; San Francisco; and Lawrence, Mass. (These locations map to the corporate offices of Ziff Davis Media Inc., publisher of eWEEK.)

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here for the 5th annual Excellence Awards winners.

The Boys & Girls Clubs, which took root in 1860, is a national movement of clubhouses that serve mostly low-income young people. Clubhouses are open after school and on weekends, providing safe and productive environments.

"Children come from different areas and get what they need to develop into happy, healthy children," said William Weisberg, associate division director of The Childrens Aid Society, which operates the East Harlem Boys & Girls Club in New York (

Weisberg said that the money donated by eWEEK to the East Harlem Boys & Girls Club will go toward a technology teachers salary.

"This grant will help us retain a teacher we would not have been able to otherwise," Weisberg said. "We cant just do tutoring with pen and paper; we need to make sure the kids we serve, who usually cannot afford technology at home, have access to technology in the after-school hours."

This digital divide can also be seen at the Boys & Girls Club in Lawrence (, said Maureen Kelley, volunteer coordinator. "We are the digital divide—most of our kids dont have computers at home," Kelley said. "The kids use the computers here at the club for schoolwork, projects, research and for applying to schools."

Kelley said the funds donated by eWEEK will be used in part to purchase consumables such as paper and printer ink but also to acquire educational software and to develop new programs.

Boys & Girls Clubs sites in San Francisco include eight in-town clubhouses, a summer enrichment school and a residential summer camp. Rob Connolly, interim president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (, said its critical for young people to develop computer skills to advance in todays world.

Connolly said the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco is moving from stand-alone technology centers to an approach where technology is integrated into everything the kids are learning. "We see technology not as a destination but as a vehicle to reach a destination," he said. The funds donated by eWEEK to the San Francisco Boys & Girls Clubs will be used to pay for a T-1 line, according to Connolly.

"Our technology is currently ineffective, and safety at the clubs is compromised due to the fact that information bottlenecks at the servers," Connolly said. "This new technology will allow the youth to access the Internet, staff to communicate and file reports, and front-counter attendants to solve emergency issues in a manner reflective of our positive reputation in the community."

eWEEK Labs Executive Editor Debra Donston can be reached at