Six Evanston Township High School Youth Technology Corps (YTC) student representatives traveled to New Orleans over spring break to “bridge the digital divide” by setting up two new YTC clubs in areas of New Orleans (NOLA) still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina a decade ago.

ETHS YTC students spent months preparing for this service trip. Partnering with New Orleans’ Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal, the club first raised funds from an online campaign and private donors. Club members then refurbished five laptops to donate to the NOLA clubs and studied NOLA’s historical context and social justice issues with the help of ETHS history teacher Corey Winchester.

Youth Technology Corps chose six ETHS student representatives for the trip: Connor Williams, Carlton Jones, Jerry Williams, Mitchell Gabe Rivera, Kurt Bruggeman, and Joshua James. These students learned all the procedures to run a YTC club, including how to teach Microsoft Registered Refurbishing protocols. In New Orleans, the Evanston students set up new YTC clubs in space donated by Christian Unity Baptist Church and Adinkra NOLA School.

In addition to donating the laptops they brought from Evanston, the students organized the new club rooms and processed more than  40  used computers for club use and donation in the community. They taught computer-skills  classes to young Adinkra students and trained New Orleans’ new YTC staff how to set up and run a club using a newly designed, custom YTC portal.

ETHS YTC students were recognized for their service work and laptop donations at a community meeting hosted at the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal. ETHS  YTC students participated in discussion groups about racial and social justice issues throughout their stay at the Center.

ETHS YTC will maintain ongoing contact with its two new “sister” clubs through regular video conferences. The Evanston club will act as a “help desk” to the New Orleans clubs and hopes to return for additional service trips in future years.

Youth Technology Corps is a non­profit organization that runs after­school clubs where teens learn to refurbish used computers which they then donate to other non­profits or people impacted by poverty. The ETHS club has been one of YTC’s flagship clubs for almost a decade.