Computers for Children, Inc is a not for profit organization that, for 18 years, has focused on bringing computer technology and all of its ever changing potential to schools and children throughout Western New York.
Their annual fundraiser, Tour de Vine will be held Thursday, November 5 on the 8th floor at Larkin Center of Commerce at 5pm. This year’s theme is “La Masquerade”, with a New Orleans flavor, from the décor to the food sampling.
I sat down with Christine Carr, the executive director recently at their location at the Center of Commerce, and she gave me an in-depth look at the program.
CFC was founded in 1997 by Kevin Kelly, who at the time was president of Computer Advantage. He now owns a global company called Stampede Presentation Products, based in Buffalo. He and a team of friends identified a niche that was not before considered, as schools and districts were not prepared for our upcoming 21st century and the need for computers and technology.
Early on it evolved to include youth training programs to focusing on the concept of STEAM. She explains, “The acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Some of our programs for the youth involve kids learning about hardware and software concepts where they build a computer to take home”, she continues, “Other programs focus on robotics, program coding and electronic circuitry. And further still, other programs focus on digital media arts such as green screen tech, and Photoshop, web design, etc.” Computers For Children creates programs that are exciting and very hands on so kids have the opportunity to learn about real world applications. Last year, we serviced over 400 students in this facility, and schools, and partners’ places.”
Christine is also on the governor’s broadband task force for digital literacy and broadband access. Across NYS, they look for ways to bring technology to students’ homes. “About 50% of population does not have computers or internet connectivity in the home,” she mentions. “As schools become more virtual, it’s a learning process to bridge the gap in understanding the importance of having it in the home, especially those on limited budgets.”
Today they still partner with schools in need throughout WNY, as well as focusing on special populations, like refugees. They’re looking for solutions for the language barrier as well as technology barriers. An example of this is working with the Burmese population, positioning kids and parents in the training together. “Thanks to The John R. Oishei Foundation, we have found a solution that works. Kids in school are being exposed to language and technology much faster than their parents, when we train them together there is a natural communication bridge that begins as kids interpret for language and the computer that lasts well past the initial training as the family goes home with a computer,” Carr states.
The fundraising event will feature a high technology auction with almost $16,000 worth of electronic products up for grabs. Sponsors like Dirt Cheap TV, donated large screen tv’s, projectors, surround sound systems, computers, and laptops. A wine fridge which holds about 100 bottles of wine will also be auctioned off, as well as weekend getaways. The event will also be honoring long-standing Board Members for their dedication and their service – Mike Berchou of Phillips Lytle, Theron Howard of HSBC and CapCo, and Ricki Harper, retired KPMG.
Restaurants, wineries, beer crafters, places of spirits will participate in the event. “It’s all about sampling,” Christine says. Craig Matthews from WYRK and WJYE will be the master of ceremonies, and the jazz sounds of the Joe Brancato Trio will provide the live entertainment. Reflex Productions will handle the music production for the event. “The attire is business casual – masks are provided. Parking is free, and we are in Larkinville!” Carr states with a smile. “We thank our sponsors for their help: ESSENDANT, EPSON, Dirt Cheap TV, Stampede Presentation Products, Strauss & Company, Reflex Productions, Larkin Center of Commerce, Phillips Lytle, Sanderson & Co., Business First, Peeters Construction.
There is still time to get your tickets. Go to www.cfcbuffalo.org or call 716 823 7248 ext 576