As part of a new partnership with HP Inc. last year, seven YMCAs offered digital access and training to young people and underserved communities. The HP LIFE digital skills training courses reached more than 1,300 learners, mainly between the ages of 15-26. HP LIFE is a program of the HP Foundation.
Building on that success, this year YMCAs worldwide and HP are expanding the initiative to reach more people and further close the digital divide.
“Digital equity and digital inclusion are so important to ensure young people are among those making a change in the world”, said World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee, noting the YMCA commitment to Meaningful Work through YMCA Vision 2030. “Our research, and research from other organisations around the future of work, show if you lack digital competency, you’ll be out of the equation. We are grateful to have this opportunity through HP”.
“We all know that young people are our future, and everyone deserves access to build the skills they need to succeed,” said James McCall, Chief Sustainability Officer, HP. “HP has set an ambitious goal to help accelerate digital equity for 150 million people by 2030. By continuing our global collaboration with YMCA, we can reach young people in the communities where they live today, giving them access to practical business and IT skills that can help them thrive.”
Widening the scope
Last year’s collaboration arose in response to the 2020 Covid pandemic when nearly every aspect of life moved online. People who lacked digital access, skills – or both – were quickly left behind. Research shows Covid impacted young people particularly hard:
- 65 million young people lost their jobs (ILO)
- 1.5 billion young people were affected by school closures (UNESCO).
The cornerstone of the work in 2022 was the integration of HP LIFE skills-training courses into ongoing YMCA programming. The courses, which are available in eight languages, cover topics such as starting a small business and understanding 3D printing. This year, the HP LIFE courses continue in four YMCAs, and the project expands in scope to include tech centres, volunteerism and community acceleration.
“Europe faces a war and humanitarian crisis with no precedence. In HP, we found a partner that could understand and react quickly to the needs of communities in conflict in eastern Europe and elsewhere”, said Juan Simoes Iglesias, Secretary General of YMCA Europe.
Areas of focus in 2023
Continuing the programmes they launched last year, YMCAs in East Jerusalem, Scotland, Ethiopia, and Liberia again offer HP LIFE courses. With one year of experience, the four YMCAs are looking to increase last year’s reach and engage 2,000 participants this year. Click here to read their 2022 stories.
Tech Centres and Volunteerism
Three YMCAs were selected to offer tech centres. YMCAs in Long Beach, USA and the National Council of YMCAs in India participated last year and will expand their outreach. Joining them is the YMCA of Greater Houston, which indicated that digital equity among teens is a pressing community need. As YMCA Long Beach has extensive experience, they will coach the other two YMCAs and develop a case study as guidance for future projects.
The goal is for each YMCA to reach at least 5,000 people annually for three years through the centre to accelerate digital equity. Activities can include holding events, taking devices to schools, and more. In addition, they will also offer HP LIFE courses as part of their programming and explore employee volunteering opportunities with the local HP offices.
HP and the YMCA have already accomplished significant work in this area. For example, the Educational Digital Centre in the Republic of Moldova is a significant project, valued at €5.5 million.
With the support of HP and the team of YMCA Moldova, the digital centres are expected to benefit more than 300,000 people, including young people. More than 5,300 new devices will be available, and the teams have already distributed 2,100. Read more about this exciting project on the YMCA Europe website.
The community acceleration initiative includes countries in the Western Balkans. The YMCA Kosovo, which participated in HP LIFE courses last year, returns. YMCA Albania will have two digital hubs and aims to reach young people through local schools. YMCA Serbia will have a digital hub available daily for young people, and the YMCA in Macedonia seeks to build a long-term community programme.
Viktor Iliev, National General Secretary of YMCA North Macedonia, said, “The opportunity to partner with HP enables us to empower hundreds of thousands of young people. It will help them become agents of change in our communities, remain relevant in the modern era, and increase their digital skills to ensure they are not left behind”.
YMCA Vision 2030
As referenced by Carlos Sanvee, the global YMCA Movement is committed to creating, expanding and advocating meaningful, just and equitable education, training, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in the transition to the new economies. That seamlessly aligns with HP’s commitment to accelerating digital equity for 150 million people by 2030.
“The Pillar of Meaningful Work is one we embrace fully”, Carlos said. “We are committed to millions of young people who are digitally literate, that we’ve bridged the gap of digital inequality, and we ensure we continue to contribute to a just, inclusive and sustainable world for all”.