October 22, 2020

Creating Digital Access to Move Forward Together

In October 2019, Friends of the Children-Portland was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to equip and launch a Digital Literacy and Entrepreneurship initiative. Little did we know, this project would create the infrastructure necessary to sustain service during uncertain and socially distant times. With support from the Verizon grant and other gifts from Apple, Cambia, Kuni Foundation, AT&T and our individual donors, we were able to provide our youth and families with the tools they needed to thrive.

With this support from our community, we purchased 10 laptops and 140 iPads to loan out to youth participating in hands-on gaming tournaments, artist-in-residence workshops, and coding camps throughout the spring and summer. Currently, some of our youth are participating in a 10-session coding camp with Anthony Sweeting, Founder of Wacky World Coding. For Teal, a 10-year old youth in our program, who already has a few prior coding workshops under his belt, this class is different because “you actually get to write code and build things” unlike drag-and-drop alternatives. D’Andre, a 13-year old youth in the Camp, says “if you do coding correctly, you can do anything you want with it.” With this control over coding, our youth can create whatever world they can imagine.

This Fall, we are celebrating the launch of RIZA—a modern, youth-friendly, and organization-wide social media app. RIZA was developed to highlight the community building, resource sharing, personal networking of social media while leaving out the features that encourage bullying, overuse, and lack of privacy. Designed by a longtime supporter, Cynthia King-Guffey, in collaboration with 12 mentors and 48 youth, RIZA will engage our entire Friends of the Children-Portland community in tracking youth goals, leveraging staff expertise, and celebrating youths’ achievements. Sarah, a Friend involved in the RIZA Pilot, described her experience as a “unique and holistic approach to connecting and building community with different mentors and youth.”

This year, our youth are navigating a new set of challenges stemming from COVID-19. While the uncertainty is daunting, we are grateful for corporate and individual partners who have provided us with the tools to sustain relationships, build new worlds, and move forward together.

Click here if you want to learn more about about our corporate partnership opportunities.