The Brotherhood Crusade is helping to bridge the digital divide in South Los Angeles with the reopening of its Youth Source Center, which now includes a state-of-the-art computer lab.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the revamped center was held Friday, April 11, on Crenshaw Blvd. in Los Angeles. Attendees included Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton), Charisse Bremond Weaver, president/CEO of the Brotherhood Crusade, Stacy Hill-Williams, Brotherhood Crusade communications and development director, Chris Shaban, vice president of government relations for G-TECH, the company that funded the computer lab, and Wendy Raquel Robinson, community activist and star of “The Game.”
Speakers at the ceremony discussed the importance of the center in a community where access to the latest and most advanced computer technology is limited.
“The enhanced technology, state-of-the-art computers and furniture will assist the Brotherhood Crusade in providing the necessary tools and resources for our youth to be more competitive in school and in the communities we serve,” said Hill-Williams.
The Brotherhood Crusade Youth Source Center is a place where young people are allowed to plan and prepare for life after high school, according to BC officials. In partnership with the city of Los Angeles Community Development Department they said, the center provides job readiness training, GED preparation, independent study programs, internship opportunities, college exploration workshops, career path workshops and job placement.
With the addition of the Cyber Café, the Youth Source Center will also equip students for careers that require technological savvy.
“The digital divide isn’t just a concept, it is an all too real reality for communities in my district and throughout South Los Angeles,” Hall said. “The Brotherhood Crusade’s Youth Source Center will not only keep young people off the streets, but it will give future homegrown doctors, engineers and public servants the tools necessary to compete and thrive in the 21st century economy.”
The center will feature new Mac computers and a list of software programs. Students will learn in structured classes or in self-paced tutoring programs.
“The Brotherhood Crusade has a good track record of helping youth find and placing youth in jobs and internships,” officials said.
“With their new skills, youth will have more employment options, be able to globally compete in the technology field, and, most importantly, be prepared to assume the highly compensated employment opportunities created in their own backyard with the advent of Silicon Beach. This is significant when one considers that the unemployment rate of 17-24 year old out-of-school youth in South Los Angeles is 57% and in the absence of this center, these opportunities would be extremely limited.
The Cyber Café was created with the input of students, Hill-Williams said. The youth asked for a relaxed, comfortable environment—with Wi-Fi. Think Starbucks minus the coffee.
The carpeted Cyber Café offers a cozy sofa and chairs in a lounge area. It also features expandable tables that make collaboration easier, and white boards.
Geri Keller, of GTECH, worked with the Brotherhood Crusade to design a space that met the desires of students and the needs of the program.
The Cyber Café is funded by a grant from GTECH, a company specializing in gaming technology. Through its “After School Advantage Program,” GTECH has created more than 200 computer centers in the U.S. and abroad. The computer centers provide youth with a fun, educational experience that they might not have otherwise. The goal is to increase interest in careers in computers and to help students become more competitive in school and in the job market.
“The Brotherhood Crusade is honored to receive and be a part of the GTECH After School Advantage Program,” Hill-Williams said. “I would like to thank Assemblyman Isadore Hall III for his commitment and engagement with GTECH and the Brotherhood Crusade.”
The new center furthers the mission of the Brotherhood Crusade, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and meeting the unmet needs of low-income, underserved residents of South Los Angeles.
In February, Charisse Bremond Weaver and George Weaver received a 2014 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award. This prestigious award, widely recognized as the “Nobel Prize” for non-profit organizations, honors those who offer innovative solutions to social problems. The Weavers were chosen for “substantially improving the academic achievement and health of South Los Angeles youth through a set of tailored programs provided with business and community partners.”