Another outstanding strategic partnership that the Rosalie Rendu Center has formed throughout the years — StreetCode Academy, in this case — has provided a critical dimension to empower our students to thrive. In the early COVID-19 days, our ESL students made do and attended virtual classes on their cell phones. This fall they were able to ramp up and improve their distance learning experience with loaner laptops from StreetCode Academy to learn English and stay close to their community via Zoom.
StreetCode Academy is visionary, streetwise, and uber generous.
The Academy was founded to support communities of color in East Palo Alto with the mindset, technological skills, loaner laptops and software that are foundational for seizing educational and economic opportunities.The mission of StreetCode Academy is to bridge the digital divide by providing tech training and loaner laptops to all families in need in East Palo Alto.
StreetCode Academy’s founders started with a vision to empower everyone in East Palo Alto to be innovative and fulfill their potential. The technology and training they provide is fundamental to learning, working and creating.
“Even before COVID-19, I could see students using their phones instead of laptops to learn,” said Kyle Carter, Community Engagement Outreach Manager for StreetCodeAcademy. “I looked at that as unfortunate and more proof of how East Palo Alto has been left out of Silicon Valley.”
The process of StreetCode Academy supplying MacBooks to Rosalie Rendu Center began with our students filling out the application on the StreetCode Academy website. Nearly all students qualified for a loaner laptop.
StreetCode Academy brought 25 loaner laptops to the Center where they were distributed. Two-by-two, students picked up their laptops and learned from Dick Hutsell, long-time RRC volunteer, computer class teacher and advisory board member, how to set them up. Dick showed the students how to connect to the internet, download software and set up their email accounts.
Thanks to StreetCode Academy and Dick’s comprehensive instructions, the students were fully equipped and operational for distance learning. No more struggling to learn English via Zoom on their phones.
The students have access to the loaner laptops for a year and can then reapply to extend the loan. StreetCode Academy also provides technical support, replacement laptops when needed and classes.
StreetCode Academy works with community organizations that are already supporting families in need, such as the Rosalie Rendu Center. Kyle, having lived in East Palo Alto, knew about the Center as a youth, long before working with StreetCode Academy.
“We don’t hold back. There are 7,500 households in East Palo Alto. Most are two-family households with an average of six people,” Kyle reports. “Many families have been sharing one computer for everything — work, homework and learning.
“Our goal is to make loaner laptops available to 100% of the families in EPA who need them. Once we know they have one or two, we’ve done our job,” said Kyle.
StreetCode Academy has a lot in common with the Rosalie Rendu Center as a non-profit dedicated to providing leading-edge learning and community building to enrich the lives of the people they serve.
Kyle believes leading-edge technology is simply the foundation on which success in education and work is built.
“We provide quality technology and education to help African Americans, Latinx and Pacific Islanders overcome adversity, become innovative and creative and make great things happen,” said Kyle.
“East Palo Alto is culturally very rich. It’s where I’m from so I know there’s a lot of talent here. And I know how much innovation we can produce in our small community,” said Kyle, who himself has participated in visual arts and written music and lyrics in the context of a social justice program.
“At StreetCode Academy, we provide laptops for students along with the technology and the tools they need for creativity and innovation. My goal is to help develop their hidden genius and convince them of their brilliance.”