Thanks to a generous donation from IBM, United Way for Greater Austin will distribute IBM Young Explorers Learning Centers to Austin Learning Academy, Faith Presbyterian Child Development Center, Child Inc., and El Buen Pastor. The donation is part of IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning program, which operates in 60 countries, and has reached more than 100,000 teachers, serving more than 10 million students.
The IBM Young Explorer Learning Center, a child-sized computer station with brightly colored Little Tikes furniture, hosts a computer equipped with applications that encourage language, technology, and math and science skills necessary for children to learn and succeed before they enter kindergarten. It also features fun and interactive games that are ideal for young patrons age three up to seven.
“United Way has been great in helping us prepare our students with technological skills,” said Ann Wingler, Executive Director of Faith Presbyterian Child Development Center, “Since 50 percent of our students are low-income, their access to computers is limited. The Young Explorers gives them an opportunity to increase their technological proficiency and interact with computers on a daily-basis.”
Along with fostering key skills, the Young Explorers Learning Center promotes social interaction as at least two students share the computer and engage the applications together.
“IBM and United Way for Greater Austin have collaborated on various initiatives for nearly two decades,” said Beth Tracy, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Manager. “IBM views quality early childhood education as an investment not only in today’s workforce, but also for future workforce development.”
When IBM launched the KidSmart initiative, they also created the KidSmart Early Learning program website, where parents or teachers can easily access similar games and activities from school, home and any other facility with Internet service. IBM’S KidSmart Early Learning Program is available in eight different languages.
Last year, IBM gave ten Young Explorer Learning Centers to UWATX which were distributed to Faith Presbyterian, Communities In School for the ASPIRE program, Mt. Sinai Christian Academy, Open Door Preschools, Trinity Child Development Center and Little Wonders Childcare.
“Connecting children to technology is an important part of getting them ready for school,” said Sue Carpenter, Senior Director of Success By 6 , UWATX’s early childhood program. “Tools like the Young Explorer do a great job of providing rich learning experiences and that’s essential for brain development.”