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Student Jeffrey Guy speaks at a podium during an event held at the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County, Tennessee.

News and ViewsJune 14, 2024

Beyond the Grant: How Spectrum Digital Education is Helping Tennessee Students

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For the thousands of kids who use Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee, which consists of 20 club organizations across the state, having access to the internet offers an invaluable opportunity.

Jeffrey Guy, 14, started going to the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County in 2018 — the club was a fun environment that provided afterschool academic and leadership programs for young people in the local community. But it lacked updated technology, and, as Jeffrey describes, had a jumbled basket of cords and broken equipment that made internet access difficult.

Spectrum Digital Education (SDE) changed all that when it awarded Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee a grant that covered the purchase of laptops, routers and other IT equipment, allowing Jeffrey’s club to expand its offerings and serve as a remote learning hub.

“The Chromebooks really help when I need to do research and assignments. For kids that don't have the technology at home, we're now able to access our homework at the Boys & Girls Club.”

Jeffrey Guy, student

Witnessing a need across communities for broadband access, equipment and education, Charter launched Spectrum Digital Education grants in 2017 and has awarded more than 260 grants to support digital education and training across the company’s 41-state service area. Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee has received five such grants totaling $110,000.

“The SDE grant helped us build our portable tech lab and remove the antiquated one,” said Shelly Parham, CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County. “Now I can roll the tech lab to one area and the teens can use it, or I can roll it to another area, and it's used there. A lot of our kids do not have laptops at home, but because of Spectrum’s grant, we can give each kid a laptop to use while here.”

The SDE grants also have enabled clubs to expand their digital arts and STEM activities, so students can stay current in technology and programs like graphic arts and coding.

“Having internet access started a conversation about something that I now advocate for – online safety,” said Aubri Whaley, a teen who attends the Boys & Girls Club of the Ocoee Region, Meigs County unit. “With technology advancing, how we protect kids is important to me, and the grant from Spectrum really started that.”

More information about Spectrum Digital Education is available here.