Non-profit National Urban Technology Center (Urban Tech), a program that aims to better the lives of at-risk students through technology, is working to stop bullying and provide life-skills training to kids throughout Brooklyn.
Pat Bransford, founder and president of Urban Tech, said bullying prevention was always a theme the program touched on, but now parents and children are facing a "huge problem," and Urban Tech is looking to address it.
"We're very well-situated because of our experience and our curriculum products," Bransford said.
Since 1995, Urban Tech has been teaching children how to better communicate and increase their academic performance through technology classes. "We started with the seventh grade," Bransford said. "We saw that we could go in and improve life skills. We used our tools for social and emotional growth, teaching health education, financial literacy [etc.].
"We realized with the tools [that] teach them these life skills, plus by giving them mentors and coaches with experience in business world, [kids] began to set goals. We had kids decide they wanted to be President of the United States at age 10."
The program has developed an initiative in which peer mentors from the fifth and sixth grade lead younger students through the third grade.
Bransford noted that fifth and sixth graders will be trained to mentor younger children, creating a ripple effect in the amount of students reached. "This will help kids do more critical thinking about themselves and build goals, but they need help in doing that," she said.
Financed through crowd-funding site Indiegogo, Urban Tech has made available its business plan to allow prospective investors to learn more and invest.
"You can send it to thousands of people for brand awareness first, and then give them a chance to become participants in the program at different levels," Bransford said. "We're hoping to raise $50,000 and bring on 20 schools."
Bransford said $25 covers one child, and for $2,500, a school can begin the program, which is already functional in two Brooklyn schools.
When making a donation, people can also request a particular school be contacted to have the young peer leaders program instituted. "We want to make sure we get as much support as possible," Bransford said.