When I was a kid growing up in Wilmington, North Carolina, I spent almost every afternoon at the Brigade Boys & Girls Club. Each day, I’d head to the Club to get homework help, hang out with my friends and participate in tons of programming. Club leaders even pushed me to try basketball, a sport I went on to play through college. And as I got older, I turned to the Club for help making meaningful decisions about college and life beyond high school.
So much has changed since I attended the Boys & Girls Club. Now more than ever, young people need guidance to gain life skills that can help them become thriving adults. And in today’s job market, digital skills are especially crucial life skills. For more than 600,000 teens across the country, it’s the talented staff at the Boys & Girls Clubs who provide this support.
One of those outstanding staff members is Basha Terry. “Ms. Basha,” as Club kids call her, is a youth development professional for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Delta in Grenada, Mississippi–one of more than 4,600 locations in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s network. It’s part of Basha’s job to help teens build digital skills critical to success later in life, but it can be difficult to find resources that are both effective and engaging. So she was intrigued when she learned about Applied Digital Skills through a pilot program between Grow with Google and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Applied Digital Skills is an online curriculum that uses video-based lessons to teach young people the digital skills they’ll need for college and the workforce. These lessons guide Club members through subjects like online safety, sending professional emails, creating a budget and more. Through the program, more than 1,200 teens in six Clubs across the U.S. are using the curriculum.
In Basha's Club, teens are devouring the Applied Digital Skills lessons. Recently, 14-year-old Z’Quan took a lesson on tracking his monthly expenses and mastered spreadsheets in the process. And Jadon, also 14, used his newfound skills to research and design a presentation on engineering—his dream career.
Basha’s investment in teaching teens digital skills is part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s commitment to helping youth across the country prepare for jobs. Harnessing what we’ve learned from the six Clubs in our pilot program, we’re now expanding the opportunity to activate Applied Digital Skills in the 4,600 Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide. We’ll provide support to help them integrate these lessons into their existing programs to help teens get ready for the workforce. A group of these Clubs will also receive Made by Google devices to help Club teens take full advantage of digital tools.
Today, we’re in my home state of North Carolina at the Boys & Girls Club serving Wake County in Raleigh and we’ll visit Clubs from the pilot program to host live Applied Digital Skills workshops, where Club teens will learn to write resumes, search for jobs online and practice interviewing. They’ll also meet with a few of my fellow Club alumni from here at Google.
I know firsthand that Clubs will do whatever it takes to ensure teens have every opportunity to build the skills they need. It’s a goal we share–through Grow with Google, our initiative to create economic opportunity for all Americans, we offer free training to help people grow their skills, careers or businesses. The need for this kind of training is on the rise: A recent analysis found that digital skills are the second-fastest growing category of workforce skills people will need by 2030. We stand with organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs to inspire and enable young people with resources to prepare for jobs, and get ahead.