(NewsUSA) - Between balancing classes and after-school
activities Raymond Perez, 17, is as busy as ever. He is one of millions of high-school students
preparing for the next step in life. Unfortunately, many U.S. students are not learning skills
necessary to succeed in college and the workplace.
The Alliance for Excellent Education
estimates that only 34 percent of high-school graduates are ready for college. Additionally,
after-school programs have been reduced due to budget cuts -- even as studies reveal that they help
prepare teens like Perez for life after high school. The University of Washington's Center for
Information & Society examined the impact of Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Club Tech
program, sponsored by Microsoft.
"Many lower- and middle-income students don't have access
to enriching after-school activities like Club Tech," said Joe Sullivan, the study's lead author.
"As schools have geared curricula toward core academic competencies, organizations like Boys &
Girls Clubs fill an important void."
From writing a research paper to creating video
resumes, kids and teens learn how technology can help them perform better in school and expand
their future career opportunities.
"Club Tech is more than just providing computers. We
give kids and teens an opportunity to engage with technology in a way that builds confidence and
real-world skills," said Karen MacDonald, vice-president, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Perez has participated in Club Tech at Boys & Girls Clubs of Denver for two years.
Beyond developing Web and graphic design skills, he's served as a leader and learned the importance
of teamwork -- nontechnical abilities that play a crucial role in his future. In fact, he's started
his own small business offering affordable Web and graphic design services.
"I love the
unlimited creativity involved in Web design," said Perez. "I've been able to increase my creativity
and design skills. It was a challenge in the beginning, but being encouraged by my technology
advisor really made me push for the sky."
The technology access that kids get outside of
school is an important complement to classroom learning. Through Club Tech, high-school students
get to harness technology in a way that makes them more literate in current affairs and other
topics that spill over from school.
"With the right resources, all teens have the
potential to be great scholars, entrepreneurs and leaders in our communities," added