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The Look Ahead: Andrew Coy, executive director of the Digital Harbor Foundation

In the latest episode of our video series exploring lessons from the pandemic year, Coy discussed the importance of STEM programs for youth, how the Digital Harbor Foundation adjusted during the pandemic and the need for more youth at the table with stakeholders in the community.

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This editorial article is a part of Youth Building the Future Month of Technical.ly's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by Verizon 5G. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by Verizon.

The Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) tech center in Federal Hill is a place where many youth in Baltimore get their first taste of what a career in science, tech, engineering and math can really be.

On this week’s episode of Technical.ly video interview series The Look Ahead, DHF Executive Director Andrew Coy talked about the work the nonprofit has been doing over the last 18 months, the lessons the organization drew from pivots made in 2020 and what youth need to be successful in tech.

“Often we hear young people say, ‘When am I ever going to use this?'” said Coy. “Out of context, so much of the valuable and important content young people need to learn just doesn’t make much sense. My question is, how do we contextualize learning and apply it to real world problems we have around us? If you have the combination of a just-in-time access and learning with a real world problem that you’re trying to solve, it’s absolutely inspiring to see what young people will do — the way that they’ll put together and solve for problems that really matter.”

This was a conversation about the solutions DHF is working on, and the need for urgency around fixing issues of digital equity and connectivity. Coy doesn’t want to wake up years from now feeling like he could have, or should have, done more.

“My point is we need to solve this not service it,” said Coy, quoting the philosophy of Gary Bonner of PCs for People on bridging the digital divide. “We need to think about the structures that should be different. Internet has gone from a private luxury good to being a utility. Whether it’s regulated like a public utility is not for me to say. But thinking about it as a utility, we need to be ensuring that people have connectivity because the health, economic and educational implications are similar to not having running water.”

Watch our conversation here:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2APldzrY7bQ]

 

Here’s the audio version:

 

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: Digital Harbor Foundation
Series: Youth Building the Future Month 2021

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