Technology Center Puts Students on Pathway to Success
In a small side hallway off The Woodner apartment complex in Ward 1, the Citiwide Computer Training Center (CCTC) works to educate low-income families and those in poverty.
The organization was founded to provide free technology education to local young people. Anthony Chuukwu, the founder of CCTC, started the organization as a newcomer to this country, and quickly understood how it feels to be a bystander on America’s information superhighway.
“When I arrived in Washington, D.C., from West Africa (Nigeria), I previously had a technology background, management and training in administrative services,” said Chuukwu. “However, I could not be fully integrated into the mainstream of American society.”
“I could not find anywhere in Washington, D.C. where I could get a refresher course in technology, since none of the programs I could afford had computer training or refresher courses for my skills,” he said. He resolved to address that need.
“I came from a background of communal help [in Nigeria],” he said. “This principle followed me when I arrived here in the D.C. area.”
As a result, students from ages 5 to 13 at CCTC every Monday through Friday are getting the head start they need. This afterschool program focuses on learning the basics of Microsoft Office, improving typing skills, and allocating time for academic enrichment. Even the 5-year-olds are kept busy.
Alison Kim, outreach coordinator for the program, said when they come in she plays counting games with them. It helps them get familiar with the computer and stimulates their developing minds early on. Some of the younger kids also learn how to shoot and edit video at the program. “Overall, we are trying to make a long-lasting difference in the education of today’s youth,” said Kim.
During the summer, the center stays open for teens and young adults ages 14 to 21, who learn more advanced tasks. They get help with their resumes, and build fluency with Microsoft Word and Excel and other programs that make them more attractive to employers.
Chuukwu recalled the experience of, Chichi, a girl who passed through CCTC.
“She started at CCTC when she was 9 years old. Her mother had just died and she was being passed from one family member to another. She was quiet and withdrawn, and was having difficulty focusing on her schoolwork. In the past three years, Citiwide has become her home and provided her the stability that enabled her to blossom.”
“CCTC was more than I ever imagined,” said Chichi. “I found a family here. The people are amazing. They have shown me what I am capable of, and I am no longer that timid little girl that was afraid to try new things. I know what I want and I know how to get it.”
She is now in high school and on track to making her dream of going to college a reality.
Each year Citiwide reaches about 200 to 250 youth like Chichi, and this year it is adding to its list of services.
Starting in January, Citiwise will begin certifying people to be nursing assistants and health aides. The program is targeted toward low-income houses, with specific mention to single mothers. “I thought it was a need, and so I did more research,” Chuukwu said about the new nursing program. “Many retired (people) need home health assistants, and people need jobs.”
This program has required Citiwide to receive CPR/AED and First Aid certification through the American Red Cross and to seek out qualified nurses to teach the courses, so there is a fee. However, the Department of Employment Services sponsors people with low incomes looking for work, so those who qualify are expected to have all or most of the fee waived.
Chuukwu and the people at Citiwide have big plans for the future. With the everexpanding numbers of their youth program and the addition of the nursing program, they already have plans to use another location at 929/931 Kennedy St. NW. With this bigger space, Chuukwu looks to reach a larger number of people.
He is proposing to use a section as a day care center for single parents while they take the training courses, so a new group of people will be able to utilize Citiwide’s services. “The only thing stopping us is limited funding right now,” Chuukwu said.
To inquire about the organization’s programs, call (202)-667-3719.