January 18, 2018
Voqal recently released its 2017 annual report and is starting the new year off by featuring some of the stories from the report on our blog. This week we continue to take a look back at FY 2017 with a spotlight of one of Voqal’s initiatives focused on creating equity through access, Mobile Citizen.
A Plus Kids Organization is quite small, but for African immigrants living in Phillips, a small Minneapolis neighborhood, its impact is big. By connecting these constituents with tutoring, training and the internet, A Plus Kids is helping them overcome common challenges related to education and workforce development, and putting them on a path to success.
A Plus Kids provides education for adult- and school-age students spanning computer basics to high-level programming, along with cloud and infrastructure management using Microsoft technologies. Program resources include access to online learning content, official Microsoft Academic Courses and classroom curriculum.
The organization was built on the belief that a higher percentage of people find a job if they have access to the internet and all of the additional resources the internet provides. Such was the case for one A Plus Kids adult who registered for a Python course via Udemy, an online course provider, in order to learn the basics of creating applications and games. This individual now has a freelance job and is generating income.
A Plus Kids has a plan to further expand its training offerings to include a certification program.
Many jobs require a 4-year degree, which poses a variety of challenges for the demographic A Plus Kids serves. However, according to Yusuf Waged, A Plus Kids’ program director, an increasing number of organizations are now respecting certification programs. “Being able to offer an online certification-based program will translate into greater social equity for our constituents,” said Waged. “They will not be dismissed or overlooked due to education.”
A Plus Kids also provides after school tutoring and classes for students in grades K-12. These classes and tutoring sessions have helped students (between 20 and 30 per day) to advance their academic skills, as well as prepare for college. Having internet access means tutors can use new innovations such as Raspberry Pi, to excite youth to engage in the program and to learn.
Having internet access also means having access to a wealth of online curriculum; it means finding educational opportunities at the click of a mouse. A Plus Kids is using Mobile Citizen’s mobile internet as a platform for delivering critical teaching, information and resource-sharing. Its constituents are benefiting by staying engaged, and ahead of our ever-changing information world. Waged offered a common scenario where a job seeker lacking internet access at home may see a job posted online one day, only to find it gone by the time they were able get access a second time to apply, putting them at a significant disadvantage. A Plus Kids solves this problem by making Mobile Citizen’s affordable broadband internet available to these families.
With all of A Plus Kids’ success in preparing youth for 21st century workforce skills and helping un- or under-employed constituents with job placement, Waged considers the organization’s greatest success to be the way it does business. Through strategic partnerships with Mobile Citizen, Osiris Organization, Microsoft Imagine Academy and the local cultural community center, A Plus Kids has lowered its overhead costs allowing it to reach more families.
“We are paving pathways for success for our immigrant families,” says Waged. “By giving them the training, tutoring and access they need to obtain and share knowledge, as well as attain financial freedom, we’re helping them improve their lives.”
To read more inspiring stories from FY 2017, download Voqal’s Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report: We Have a Plan.