"The Summer Tech Camp conducted at the Tech House at 152 Littleton Avenue in Newark, NJ from July 17th – August 11th exceeded my every expectation.

Nine (9) 11-, 12-, 13-, and 14-year-old students (and one student just ten years and ten months old (we affectionally called her “ten and ten”)), from Newark and East Orange started camp knowing nothing about 3D-Printing, building a computer, or making a short film, ended the program speaking the languages of these three technologies.  And as they wrestled with new concepts and ideas, one could almost see their little brains being rewired to become critical thinkers and problem solvers.  Parents and caregivers became more than drop off and pickup Uber drivers, arriving early and going into the classrooms to see what their scholars were learning.  The Saturday before the program ended, we all got together and had a family meal while we talked about our commitment to the children after the program ended.  Amberlee’s mom, Kimberly, made enough food for a small army and brought take-out containers for families to take leftovers home.

The instructors were “Par excellence,” pushing the students beyond their limits and comfort zones, but providing the important mentoring, nurturing, and encouragement to give them the confidence they could and would succeed.  Their final project presentation brought warmth to my heart and tears to my eyes as they demonstrated what they learned in detail and with confidence.

Each day from 8:30am – 9:00am during the breakfast period I chatted with them about topics ranging from the turmoil in West Africa, to how the war in Ukraine impacted the supply and price of goods here in the United States.  During the wind-down period (4:00pm – 4:30pm), they played checkers and taught each other chess.  Amari was the undefeated and undisputed champion, not losing a single match!

A very big thanks to Dr. Wilson and her team (Ms. Andrews and Ms. Tyler), who helped with the food forms and setting aside breakfast, lunch, and the afternoon snack every day.  Thank you Ms. Frazier, Mr. Taylor, and Mr. Camillo for attending the culmination ceremony.  And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank Ms. Fraser for supporting a program so vitally important to youth who will in a very short time face a world more competitive and uncertain than we could have imagined just fifteen years ago.  Our challenge is keeping them in the Urban League orbit while we continue to develop what I refer to as their technology superpowers.

Hands down this has been the most impactful and fulfilling work I have done since coming to the League in 2004.

Thank you for the opportunity!"

- Mr. Darrin Sharif, Tech House Director

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