Teen tech program receives $100K Generator Z grant

COURTESY OF BOUNDLESS CONNECTIONS

Boundless Connections’ teen technology program, available in its Rochester and Olean technology centers, has received a $100,000 grant from Generator Z. 

Launched in 2020, Generator Z is a teen-led initiative to reimagine the future of afterschool. More than 1,000 “Generators” from across southeast Michigan and western New York shared their afterschool experience and insight online. Afterschool providers stepped up with ideas to turn that teen insight into action. Over 90 providers received $4 million to bring their ideas to life in the next year and TECH Unleashed is one of them. 

TECH Unleashed is for youth ages 13-17 interested in computer programming, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, graphic art and video/audio editing. Participants receive guidance on project and time management, leadership and team building, public speaking, research and industry networking. 

TECH Unleashed member Jimeer sketches on a Microsoft Surface Studio at the Boundless Connections technology center in Sibley Square.

Boundless Connections will work with its nonprofit partner, Strength Solutions, to distribute the funds, $70,000 of which are earmarked for the Rochester flagship tech center’s TECH Unleashed program. Strength Solutions will provide full and partial scholarships to any members in need. 

To sign up for TECH Unleashed, call 585-420-6868, email rochester@bctechcenter.com or stop by the tech center at Sibley Square. Members will meet from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays when schools are in session. 

“Giving young people, regardless of their economic status, the opportunity to engage with technology at their pace is part of our goal of developing a pipeline of tech-savvy people who want to live and work in the Rochester area,” CEO Christina Lopez said. “We have never turned anyone away for an inability to pay, and this grant helps us continue changing the way people engage with and view technology. 

“Our Olean pilot tech center started around TECH Unleashed and it’s been a turning point for many of the young people who have participated. We’ve had members go on to pursue careers in different tech-based fields, from video production to web and app design to rocket science, and everything in between. 

“Part of what sets our programs apart is the autonomy we give members. As facilitators, we help guide them and keep them on track with their goals, but this isn’t a class, so everyone is learning and exploring what they’re passionate about at their own pace.” 

TECH Unleashed members receive a junior membership giving them access to the tech center during staffed hours without a parent or guardian. Staffed hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays. Visit boundlessconnections.com for information.