In the Middle of Technology

NEWS RELEASE – joint on behalf of the Boys & Girls Club Fox Valley, J. J. Keller Foundation, and Fox Valley Technical College

February 8, 2016

In the Middle of Technology

Middle school students are learning computer skills through a new partnership aimed at keeping the regional IT sector strong.  

Anchored by support from the J. J. Keller Foundation, middle school students at various Boys & Girls Club (BGC) after school sites in the Fox Cities will be exposed to software, application, video game development, and other related technologies to develop Information Technology (IT) skills that are needed by local employers.

The $78,000 grant from the J. J. Keller Foundation is designed to introduce IT skill sets to young learners as a way to keep the region’s pipeline for this in-demand industry strong. “Our kids will have fun while learning more about technology and then further exploring their IT interests in summer camp programs offered by Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC),” said Greg Lemke-Rochon, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club Fox Valley. “Thanks to this partnership, we are able to expose area youth to the many emerging technology fields that we hope will impact their future career choices.”

The new club offering, named “Megabites” by its participants, is being piloted initially at the BGC site at Roosevelt Middle School. It also includes summer camps at FVTC, open to all BGC participants. The goal is to eventually expand the program to all BGC sites. Instruction is provided by faculty from FVTC.

The J. J. Keller Foundation has been committed to helping underserved youth and providing them with tools to end the cycle of poverty. With the large demand for technology jobs in the New North region, this project allows students to explore IT concepts early, as well as learn more about educational options that will be available to them at FVTC.

“Our desire to grow local talent fits well with teaching youth about the evolving technology they will use to shape tomorrow’s technology jobs,” said Rustin Keller, J. J. Keller & Associates executive vice president & chief Operating officer. “We’re pleased to create another venue to help youth develop their interest in technology, with an eye on becoming the IT professionals of the future.”

The initiative kicked off the first week of February and even caught the eye of Governor Scott Walker, who paid a visit to Roosevelt Middle School to highlight the program’s distinct partnership and use of technology.

Governor tours “young techie” program

Written by: Mary Harp-Jirschele, Executive Director, J. J. Keller Foundation, Inc.
February 2, 2016

When Governor Scott Walker came to the Fox Cities on Monday, a program funded by the J. J. Keller Foundation was a highlight of his whirlwind tour of the area. The 20160201_161126Governor met with students in the Megabites program at Roosevelt Middle School in Appleton to learn about a new, innovative career-exploration program. Students in the hands-on program are introduced to careers in technology and exposed to options in the IT field. Megabites is funded by the Foundation, administered by the Boys and Girls Clubs-Fox Valley, and instructed by Fox Valley Technical College faculty member Dan Kretz.

According to Rustin Keller, who was on hand to meet the Governor, “This is a unique opportunity to expose young minds to the wide-ranging possibilities in not just the IT field, but in local companies as well. They will experience job-shadowing opportunities with local employers designed to excite them about pursuing IT-related coursework.”

Rustin continued, “A recent economic study done by NEW ERA shows that the demand for technology talent is going to outpace supply by 2,900 jobs in the next five years. This is estimated to have a $200 million impact on Northeast Wisconsin in lost income if this isn’t addressed. Even more shocking, the same study showed only 14% of kids in grades 8-12 have an interest in technology based careers! I’m thrilled J. J. Keller & Associates was able partner with the J. J. Keller Foundation to help address this need, working with FVTC and Boys & Girls Clubs is a great way to expose young kids to one of the most promising career paths of the future.”

Program organizers hope to expand to other middle-school Boys & Girls Club sites in the area. Long-term goal is to track what the students do in the future in order to measure the success of the program.