Empowering Youth to Teach Computer Skills to Adults

Virginia State University’s (VSU) 4-H Program recently received a $141,000 grant to expand efforts to empower teens to teach digital skills to adults.

The National 4-H Tech Changemakers (TCM) program uses a teens-as-teachers approach with teen leaders learning digital skills to teach to adults. The teens become certified Tech Changemakers and work in partnership with their 4-H educators to use prepared lesson plans to virtually teach digital skills to adults in their communities. The lesson plans focus on digital skills that help drive economic opportunity, like using Microsoft Word to create resumes or learning to safely navigate the internet to find job search websites.

Tech Changemakers across the country are expected to reach about 50,000 adults in rural communities over the next year and enable them to use the skills they learn to achieve greater economic opportunity. The TCM program is a collaboration between the National 4-H Council, Verizon, Microsoft, Land O’ Lakes and land-grant universities.

Dr. Chantel Wilson, 4-H STEAM Extension Specialist with the Cooperative Extension at VSU, said that the program not only helps youth become leaders and adults become computer literate, but also helps bridge the technology gap, generational gap and foster greater collaboration between youth and adults.

Localities served include two returning communities in Charlotte and Halifax counties and 16 new communities in Amelia, Bedford, Campbell, Clarke, Gloucester, Greensville, Isle of Wight, Madison, Montgomery, Nottoway, Prince Edward and Rockbridge counties as well as the cities of Bristol, Lynchburg, Roanoke and Salem. The program will also include localities closer to VSU, including Prince George County and the cities of Petersburg and Richmond.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.