The Kansas City Public Library is one of the first area nonprofit organizations to benefit from the Kansas City Digital Inclusion Fund, a $1 million endowment designed to promote computer and Internet accessibility and literacy.
A $94,800 grant from the new fund will underwrite the Library's latest youth-focused digital offering, a mobile digital media lab that it intends to launch in April 2014 to serve its Southeast and North-East branches. The mobile lab also will be available for at least one community event a month elsewhere in the Kansas City area.
Among other things, says Andrea Ellis, the Library's Digital Youth Engagement Manager, the lab will introduce 8- to 18-year-olds to coding fundamentals and engage them in audio and video production and digital storytelling.
The initiative arose from a series of meetings in the past year with youths, community stakeholders, and business and creative professionals to assess digital interests, needs, and possibilities.
"Through conversations and events with area teens, we found that their interest in technology was extremely diverse," Ellis says. "We held a summit and introduced them to a variety of digital outlets - music and video production, game development, web design, 3-D animation - and found that they wanted to know it all."
Funding for that planning came from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the MacArthur Foundation.
The Kansas City Digital Inclusion Fund was unveiled in August 2013, created with $1 million in corporate and foundation gifts and administered by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. It takes aim at the local digital divide, looking to enhance access to computers and the Internet and build user skills in underserved, often economically challenged households and areas.
The Library is one of five area nonprofits selected as initial Digital Inclusion Fund recipients.
Amid preparations for its new mobile digital media lab, the Library is seeking area professionals with experience in storytelling, video production, game development, web design, and coding to serve as mentors for participating youths.
Volunteers would participate in a four-hour training session in late March, then spend 2½ hours a week at either the Library's Southeast or North-East branch beginning in April. At least a six-month commitment is requested.
Those interested can contact Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org .