Bridging the Gap for Local Students

October 22, 2018
Bridging the Gap for Local Students

Frederick Businesses Come Together to Help 10 Students

“Some people have doors to opportunity open to them and they just have to walk through. Others have to bang a little harder on the door.”

- Ann Ryan, Housing Authority of the City of Frederick

The Digital Divide

Imagine you’re a student. Imagine you’re a student and don’t have Internet service. Now imagine you’re a student with no Internet access and no computer to complete your assignments. This is a reality in Frederick.

This fundamental lack of access to tools and technology is called the “digital divide,” and it contributes to an opportunity gap – where young professionals are eager to work but are underprepared for available jobs.

By providing tablets and 2 years of Internet to the 10 local students in the Year Up program, Frederick County Bank, the Leaders on Loan program at the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, and The Ausherman Family Foundation are helping The Housing Authority of the City of Frederick reduce the digital divide and bridge the opportunity gap.

Say Hello to the Frederick Year Up Students

The first class of Frederick participants in the Year Up program are determined and motivated. And despite having to wake up before 6:00 am every day to meet the van and head into Baltimore, they are energetic, passionate, and outspoken about seizing this opportunity.

Year Up Students

*Photo provided by HACF

Year Up is a one-year intensive training program focused on providing young adults with the skills, experience, and support needed to empower them to reach their potential in professional careers and higher education.

“[Students] will do six months of classroom work learning IT, business, or construction management and then six months of a paid internship. They will then get help finding a job. It is an intense launching for our students who may not get that opportunity any other way.”

- Ann Ryan

The Story Behind the Project

Last winter the Housing Authority invited young people in public and subsidized housing to learn about Year Up. Interested participants had to apply, interview, and attend a site visit.

Despite the logistical challenges of executing the program, the Housing Authority knew they had to take a chance. “We found the Year Up program and we knew we had to make it work. We knew this was what we were supposed to be doing,” said Brandon McCallister, Youth Services Coordinator.

Leadership Frederick Class of 2018

The 2018 LFC Class, including members of the Leaders on Loan team who orchestrated this project. Dr. Mike Markoe (FCPS), Leigh Adams (Ausherman Family Foundation), Jim Pannucci (NIH/NCI Fred), Shelly Lofland (Clagett Enterprises), Marie Zinnert (Experient) and Kari Melvin (FCC). Photo provided by the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

To make it work, the Housing Authority applied to be part of the Chamber’s 2018 Leadership Frederick County (LFC) Leaders on Loan project.

“The Leaders-on-Loan program places small, focused groups of LFC students together to apply what they're learning to help solve a nonprofit problem. Last year, the Housing Authority for the City of Frederick asked for help in designing an expansion of wireless Internet access within public housing communities. Several technology providers, along with partners such as Frederick County Bank, teamed together with LFC Leaders-on-Loan to make this a reality” 

-Rick Weldon, Frederick County Chamber President

The Leaders connected local businesses with the opportunity to make a difference. And organizations like Frederick County Bank and the Ausherman Family Foundation were able to help fund the cost of the tablets and Internet service.

“My Leaders on Loan team was excited about working with the Frederick Housing Authority on such an important project. Closing the digital divide is essential for economic opportunity. We were proud of our results and glad that our efforts were making a difference in the lives of such amazing students.”

-Jim Pannucci, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research

“Everyone in Frederick deserves the opportunity to be successful and these students are taking every step to grow, learn, and chellenge themselves. As a community bank we see first hand the impact of businesses working together to create change and are honored to be a part of these student’s stories.”

- Marty Lapera, Frederick County Bank

How to Get Involved

If you are interested in learning more about Year Up, the Frederick students, and how to support the mission to eliminate the opportunity gap, contact the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick. Participants in the Year Up program will also be looking for internship experiences and jobs in Frederick.

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