Foster Teens Surprised With Laptops in Partnership by T-ROC, OLPC and FIRST STAR University of Miami Academy

MIAMI (Monday, June 21, 2021) – The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC) in partnership with One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and First Star University of Miami (UM) Academy surprised 25 rising juniors and seniors of the First Star 2021 – 2022 academic program with new laptops and intensive technology career experiences that will lead to summer-long internship opportunities. T-ROC Founder and CEO, Brett Beveridge, greeted 18 of the 25 students imparting some words of wisdom and then left them stunned as they were gifted the brand-new laptops. The event took place outside on-campus at the University of Miami at 11 a.m. Monday, June 21st.

PHOTO CREDIT: Manny Hernandez

Receiving the laptops is a critical step in helping the group of Miami-Dade high school students, who have been part of the foster care system, participate in this year’s First Star UM Academy for an intensive four-year college preparation program. The laptops will go on to serve them as they continue their education and even begin their careers. As part of the partnership with First Star, T-ROC’s subsidiary companies, Mobile Insight and SYMBITS, created a tailored curriculum for the students and those graduating this year will join the T-ROC team as summer interns, with a chance at landing jobs as T-ROC employees to kick off their careers.

“We wanted these rising stars to know that having a difficult start to life doesn’t mean you can’t shape your future to be bright,” said Beveridge. “Providing laptops to these students will support their learning and enable them to get one step closer to achieving their career goals. I look forward to seeing what all these kids will come to accomplish.”

“Partnering with T-ROC and One Laptop Per Child for this year’s program has meant the students will have a great opportunity to learn and succeed,” said Kele Stewart, Associate Dean of Experiential Learning at University of Miami School of Law.” We’re so proud of how our community comes together to make great things happen for kids who deserve it most.”

As of January 2021, OLPC has delivered over 3 million XO laptops in 25 languages in 46 countries. OLPC’s approach to learning is child-centric, rather than teacher-centric. The laptop is a learning platform and teachers are important guides in the learning process, but learning belongs to the learner.

“OLPC did its first project in Miami in 2010. That project pioneered some new concepts. Partnerships became an essential model that we are now replicating across the world,” said Mariana Ludmila, CEO of One Laptop Per Child. “It is great to be adding a new project in Miami and we are thankful that T-ROC chose OLPC to benefit students of First Star University of Miami Academy.” 

“Our goal is to educate as many youths around the world as possible and this partnership with T-ROC and First Star means that happens for even more kids in South Florida,” said Maria Tefel, Administration, Operations and Logistics Manager of One Laptop Per Child. “We’re excited for the new things these students will learn and the opportunities they will have thanks to this scholastic alliance.”

First Star UM Academy is an intensive four-year college preparation program on the University of Miami campus for youth affected by the foster care system. Students live in residence halls and attend daily academic and life-skills classes. Using a strengths-based and trauma-informed approach, the summer program seeks to ensure youth graduate high school prepared for higher education and have the supports and social-emotional skills necessary to successfully transition to adulthood. T-ROC’s program will coincide with the Academy’s program.

“This is the type of partnership that truly helps us achieve First Star’s mission for our students,” said Maria Pia De Castro, Program Director of First Star University of Miami Academy. “The kids not only benefit from the laptops, but from the relationships we will be building together with T-ROC and One Laptop Per Child as well as the opportunities for our First Star participants.”

To learn more about The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC), visit www.trocglobal.com. Follow T-ROC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

ABOUT THE REVENUE OPTIMIZATION COMPANIES

T-ROC is a retail branding and consulting partner that supports companies in navigating through today’s retail shopping experience, redefining the power of people and technology. T-ROC offers a unique combination of people-based services, applications, technology management, mystery shopping programs, actionable market research and competitive insights that support the complex needs of assisted selling. T-ROC’s expertise and next-generation technology is delivered by a team that’s all in to drive sales, optimize performance and deliver measurable ROI for businesses every single day.

ABOUT ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression. In partnership with the public and private sectors and non-governmental organizations and supported by comprehensive implementation and pedagogical services, OLPC seeks to provide each child with a rugged, low- cost, connected computer that empowers individual learning and growth. OLPC is more than a laptop, it is a learning project. To learn more, visit one.laptop.org.  To donate and/or fund a project, visit: onelaptopperchild.org

ABOUT FIRST STAR UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI ACADEMY

First Star University of Miami Academy is an intensive four-year college preparation program for youth affected by the foster care system.  National non-profit First Star, Inc. partners with universities and child welfare agencies throughout the country to make a long-term investment in foster youth and change the course of their lives, from trauma to academic achievement and self-sufficiency.  The program consists of four residential summers, during which students live on the University of Miami campus, and monthly sessions during the school year. The First Star Academies — now on 13 college campuses across the country — have significantly improved the outcomes of participating youth across the country. To learn more, visit their website.

Support @OLPC and Meet @AntoGriezmann and the @Atleti co Madrid Team at the Derby

14680861_10154236225928052_7225676948314994481_o

Ready for the ultimate Derby experience? Here it is. You and a friend will be there as Atleti takes on Real Madrid, and you’ll get VIP access like no one else. Not only will you take pictures with the Atleti team after their practice on November 19th, but you’ll also snap legendary photos on the field before the big game. When it’s finally time for the Derby on November 20th, you’ll watch the showdown from the best seats in the house: the President Suite. Afterwards, you’ll hit up the exclusive players’ press conference, meet Antoine Griezmann and he’ll hand you a signed jersey while you collaborate with a solidarity initiative. Enter and participate!:  http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP

SOIS LÀ POUR LE DERBY MADRILÈNE! Assiste à Atlético-Real Madrid en Présidentielles au Vicente Calderón et obtiens un maillot dédicacé par Antoine Griezmann tout en participant à une action caritative! Clique et participe!:http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP 
¡VIVE EL DERBI MADRILEÑO EN DIRECTO! Asiste al Atlético-Real Madrid en el Palco Presidencial del Vicente Calderón y consigue una camiseta firmada por Antoine Griezmann mientras colaboras con una iniciativa solidaria. ¡Entra y participa!:  http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP 

Kamba Dyami: An Unusual Friend

Guest post by  Richard Caraballo from the Kamba Dyami Project in Angola

Paul wasn’t a typical child from Angola. He was quiet as well as shy, but he was always laughing. He had green eyes and black hair. He was very tall for his age.  He was living in a poor neighborhood called Lixeira (Portuguese for “dustbin”).

kamba-dyami-2 It was a normal day when Paul arrived at school. Deep in his heart, he felt that something was about to happen, but he didn’t know what. When he enteredhis classroom, he saw that his peers were excited about something. So he asked his teacher: “Why is everyone so excited?” The teacher answered: “We have a new friend named Kamba Dyami and it is a computer.” Paul asked: “Kamba Dyami?” “Which means MY FRIEND in one of the African languages used in Angola. The language is called Kinbundu”,said the teacher. Paul sat in his place a little bit confused, though he liked the idea of having this new friend as he’d never had a computer in his hands before.

After ten minutes, the teacher entered with the “new friend” and gave one to each student. The teacher also got a new friend, but he didn’t know how it worked either.

Two of Paul´s friends, who were living near his house, asked him about this computer, but Paul couldn´t explain what it was because it was the first time he held one.

The class was very noisy when a stranger entered. At the moment when he entered everyone made silence. This strange man came to explain all about Kamba Dyami. Also, he came with a challenge for the class. Everyone had to make a video about their neighborhood using this new technology. After one week, he was to choose one to receive a prize.

The strange man gave them a few instructions. They had to interview a number of neighbors about garbage. “What do you think about trash in our neighborhood? Why do we have so much waste here? What do you propose we do to eliminate litter at Lixeira?”

kamba-dyami-1Paul, who was born in Lixeira, had never asked himself these questions. On the other hand, he thought this was a real challenge. He was concerned thinking that he wouldn’t be able to complete the project because of the problems he had with his parents and siblings. They didn´t pay attention to him because they thought work was more important than studying. However, it was now mandatory for children to attend school in the country. When Paul´s parents and siblings were children, studying wasn´t obligatory.

The stranger in Paul’s classroom was a big, serious and strict man. He started to look around to pick a student to do the project. Paul hid behind his fellow students because he didn’t want to be chosen as he was nervous. The stranger was looking for an interesting student; he looked at Paul and chose him. Paul thought: “Oh no, what I am going to do? This job is impossible for me and I have only one week to complete it.”

But Paul learned to use Kamba Dyami faster than he thought. During the first and the second day, he wasn’t able to do any interviews because he had to work with his family. On the third day, his brothers took the computer and they didn’t want to give it back to him. Paul already knew a lot about the Kamba Dyami laptop because he had already explored all the activities it had. However, he wasn’t able to do any interviews until the fourth day.

The neighbors saw him walking around the neighborhood with the computer. They asked his parents what was going on, but Paul’s parents answered that what he was doing really didn´t matter. On the other hand, people saw Paul’s computer ability and they encouraged him to become a master of this technology and told him that nobody in the neighborhood could use a computer as well as him.

On the last day, he was able to complete many interviews around the neighborhood and accomplished his task. This was a big challenge for Paul.

Through this activity, Paul not only learned to use the computer, he also learned a lot about life. He learned about the people who were living in his neighborhood. He acquired new skills and learned that he can change his own future through education.kamba-dyami-3

Fundacion Gente Unida and Youth for Peace #Colombia

Fundación Gente Unida (The Foundation for United People- the “Foundation”) is a non-governmental organization created to provide education, training, and protection of children and young people in vulnerable situations. The organization works to meet their basic and educational needs with available resources, in an effort to improve their quality of life.

fundacion-gente-unida-1In 1992, Father Jorge Villalobos Ortega, a priest from Mexico, arrived in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia.

He saw beyond the beauty of the mountains to the shantytowns surrounding the Valley of Aburra. He spent time with a group of young people and participated in conferences on human values, and he asked them: “Why are you indifferent to the poverty and violence in Medellin?” The group began a profound and painful experience as they visited families living in the impoverished Moravia neighborhood. The group discussed the needs of these families and they shared their hopes and dreams with the young group.

fundacion-gente-unida-9 In 1993, Father Villalobos Ortega started an educational program involving 33 children from this community. The goal was not only to meet the children’s immediate needs but also to teach them so they could become the builders of their own futures.

fundacion-gente-unida-2 The social work of the Foundation is the concrete expression of its commitment to solidarity that every human should have for one another. The Foundation is actively working to build a more just society based on love, as the Hindu proverb states: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”gente-unida-12

The Foundation provides protection and education to the most vulnerable people living in the Medellin metropolitan area. There are currently five educational centers located in the most disadvantaged areas of the city: Moravia, Santo Domingo (La Esperanza), Manrique (La Honda), Belen (Villa Café) and Robledo (Pajarito). The educational centers feed and educate 3,200 children, youth, and adults.

Educational programs include early childhood, preschool, primary, secondary and adult education courses. More than 170 children and youth live in the Mary Bohio Home, a shelter for children who have suffered from domestic violence, abuse, and/or neglect. The Foundation provides a home, care, and education for these children who range from 3 months of age through college age students.

In 2009, the Foundation launched the PERLAS project, a program focused on using a laptop for learning. More than 2,000 OLPC Laptops were incorporated into the classroom in an effort to make learning more fun and enriching for participating children. Children were given an opportunity to use a technological tool that would soon become their best companion in their academic training.

Children had the opportunity to participate in the world of technology, the world that was reserved only for those with sufficient financial resources, despite the pervasiveness of technology in our daily lives.

In 2010, additional 374 OLPC Laptops were acquired in order to include 1st through 5th graders in the educational program. Each OLPC Laptop given became an immediate ally of the child. Children now had a friendly team of support as they entered the world of technology, a world that seemed distant and unattainable  before.

Thanks to the OLPC Laptop, homework became a more pleasant task and students had the opportunity to chat, share activities and play without having to be physically close to one another. This was certainly a surprise for the students!

The Foundation created a unique security system for the OLPC Laptop. When a machine is lost, the computer turns off and is unusable. The technical teams also created activation keys for the machines according to the school calendar. All coding was generated on the Foundation’s servers.

At present, there are 1399 OLPC Laptops in use in the Foundation’s educational centers, as follows:

 Moravia Headquarters: 230 OLPC Laptops version 4.0

 Sagrada Familia: 206 OLPC Laptops version 4.0

 La Esperanza: 384 OLPC Laptops versions 1.75 and 4.0

 Luz de Oriente: 579 OLPC Laptops version 4.0

The OLPC educational program and use of the OLPC Laptops are being supported by the Marina Orth Foundation during 2016. The Foundation is grateful for this collaboration!

fundacion-gente-unida-6 fundacion-gente-unida-7 fundacion-gente-unida-8fundacion-gente-unida-10fundacion-gente-unida-3 fundacion-gente-unida-4 fundacion-gente-unida-5

Mokshith Voodarla, a high school student with a cause @OLPC

mokshith-1Mokshith Voodarla is a high school student who made a generous donation to OLPC.

Read his thoughts about the impact of technology in his own life and in the world:

 

From a young age, I’ve been amazed by the way technology helps us in our daily lives. It was mind-boggling to me when I saw subtle things like turning on a TV with a remote happen. This led me to the realization that I wanted to build technology that made people’s lives easier. I’ve always liked to see something happen after writing a program. This started off with LEGO Mindstorms but has come all the way to building Android Apps that automatically take notes for you when taking a picture of a textbook. 
mokshith-2
I wanted to benefit as many people as I could with the knowledge I had so I decided to teach kids how to build Android apps. While doing this, I wanted to maximize the benefit of this work, and that’s when I remembered One Laptop Per Child. I’ve always taken for granted the resources I had to do things and I wanted as many people as possible to receive the resources and opportunities to do the same. I realized that by donating to OLPC, my work would help benefit a lot of people. I chose to do just that. 


Working with the kids was great. We started off from them not knowing anything at all to them being able to build a whole calculator all by themselves. We did this over the course of nine weeks. I was happy that I was able to spread that feeling of amazement on many people’s faces when they saw that what they programmed. That kind of feeling is what I live for and I really felt it when I saw those kids experience just that. The feeling itself is indescribable but it’s just amazing. 
mokshith-voodarla
Teaching these students and then being able to donate to OLPC was a very worthwhile experience for me and I would recommend if anyone else can, they should make a donation as well. OLPC does great things in developing countries and is a real reason why the world is accelerating faster and faster all the time. All reasons support helping the OLPC cause.