Digital Bridge Technology Academy
An innovative non-profit sector/public/corporate partnership model, the Digital Bridge Technology Academy is co-located at YouthSource in Renton and Learning Center North in partnership with Interconnection. Digital Bridge provides a comprehensive 4-month technology training program that is a highly successful model for re-engaging “at-risk” out-of-school youth (age 16-21) in our community.
Only 55.6% of south Seattle’s high school students graduate in four years. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation recently reported that there is a national high school dropout epidemic in America. Time magazine has called us “A Dropout Nation.” According to the recent report released by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, “The Silent Epidemic, Perspectives of High School Dropouts,” “High School dropouts, on average, earn $9,200 less per year than high school graduates, and about $1 million less over a lifetime than college graduates. Students who dropout of high school are often unable to support themselves; high school dropouts were over three times more likely than college graduates to be unemployed in 2004. They are twice as likely as high school gradates to slip into poverty from one year to the next.”
Digital Bridge Technology Academy is tackling this issue head-on, by using technology to engage and capture the imagination of out-of-school youth, providing the tools to re-engage in education, attain real world technology skills (making our graduates immediately employable), then helping our youth to achieve a secondary educational benchmark and re-engage their peers in a post-secondary setting on a level playing field. In addition to a strong emphasis on post-secondary engagement, IT sector job skills, and community-service, the Digital Bridge program model emphasizes the development of skills necessary to effectively compete in the workforce of the 21st century. Integral to the Digital Bridge model are the development of leadership skills, communication skills, collaboration skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. More than half of a student’s time in Digital Bridge is spent with hands-on project-based service learning projects, directly benefiting the community. Digital Bridge has built and maintains computer labs for the residents of the Low Income Housing Institute, and the clients of Neighborhood House, Horn of Africa Services, and the YMCA. We have provided refurbished computers directly into the homes of underserved residents of White Center, and delivered refurbished computers to children in foster care through the Treehouse organization.
Two-thirds of all Digital Bridge graduates engage in a paid corporate internship in Information Technology upon completion of their training. Digital Bridge is articulated with area community colleges, thereby fostering a connection to post-secondary education by enabling Digital Bridge graduates to earn Information Technology college credits as a part of their training, so that graduates leave the program with not only a secondary educational benchmark (GED or high school diploma), but also college coursework on their transcript.