June 23, 2023

Harlem-Based Digital Learning Lab Opens For Students To Learn New Skills In Technology

Clayton Banks CEO

Non-profit organization Silicon Harlem has teamed up with AT&T and the New York Urban League (NYUL) to offer opportunities for teens and students to explore tech careers.

Silicon Harlem’s new learning lab, which opened Tuesday, invites students to try a new tech-related skill, from augmented reality to creating code.

The lab received a major donation from AT&T, allowing them to have the latest technology for the teens in aims to bridge the digital divide and increase diversity.

“We want to make sure when it’s time for you all to apply for those jobs, that you’ll be the first person to get them,” NYUL President and CEO Avra Rice told the lab’s first visitors, according to CBS News.

Pilot Henze Gusave and the Drone Cadets will also teach kids how to fly the center’s own drone at the learning lab.

The journey of Silicon Harlem

CEO Clayton Banks and CTO Bruce Lincoln opened Silicon Harlem in 2013 and have been working and partnering with the private sector, academia, non-profits and the community.

They aim to build the next generation of technological infrastructure to meet challenges that urban centers face today and will face tomorrow.

Their main goal was to transform Harlem and other urban markets into technology and innovation hubs.

Now, they are expanding their goal to shift students’ primary interest in using electronics from entertainment to education.

Why the lab is necessary

The lab is the first-of-its- kind in the city as part of a $2 billion commitment by AT&T after finding that more than 240,000 New York City children are estimated to be without access to the internet at home.

In the past year, AT&T has opened four learning labs across New York City and plans to expand throughout the city’s boroughs.

The company also aims to raise awareness about the federally-funded Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers discounts to eligible families.

“It’s a really big gamechanger…Frankly, there’s not enough New Yorkers who are eligible for the program who have signed up, so we really want to get people to do that,” said AT&T Atlantic president John Emra.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.