My name is Darian Gray and I am the Americorps VISTA working with the Launch Pad Teen Center in Prescott, AZ. The Launch Pad (TLP) is a teen center serving youth between the ages of 13 and 19 in the Prescott area. TLP’s mission is to incite teen leadership through community education and innovation. There are many programs provided to youth through TLP, however, I would like to highlight one that I am particularly excited to work on during my VISTA year.
Project Launch is the internship program that Courtney Osterfelt, the director of TLP, created in order to help ensure the teen center is staying true to their mission. Through this program teens are paired with local businesses, in their field of interest, to intern 3 to 5 hours per week. The experience they gain is not only in a specific field but in professionalism, ethics, and accountability. I am excited to work on programming that allows teens to gain the experience that will enable them to become successful and productive citizens.
One of the needs that I am addressing for TLP this year is technology. We are in need of up to date laptops, desktops, and tablets. Technology is a crucial component of running an organization today, not to mention the increase in homework that involves the internet or some form of word processor. We are interested in developing a tech lab of four or more devices for the teens to use during drop-in hours for homework and technological skills development. The job market and collegiate realm that our teens will be entering is a very heavy tech oriented place. Having computers for them to work on each day will enable youth to develop the skills to become innovators in this changing world. The Launch Pad is also in need of a computer to be used for administrative tasks. This will help build capacity by enabling all administrative tasks to be completed on sight, while also housing all of the organization's documents in one central location enabling each VISTA after myself, and future staff members easy access to documents and data that will likely increase resource development and data tracking.