The GEAR Project is a new 36- week robotics and engineering pilot program for York City students in grades 9-12, supported by a grant from YCCF’s Children’s Program Fund. This innovative program is “geared” toward providing a well-rounded experience in all 4 disciplines of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Students meet once a week for two hours to engage in robotics and fun engineering challenges that include hands-on activities. Thankfully, each student was provided with individual robot kits to take home, in case in person sessions were interrupted; this has allowed the program to continue remotely during the pandemic. Ray Ames, executive director of Young Thinkers of York, Inc., and GEAR program director says, “I have seen students’ confidence increase as they gain transferable skills that will last a lifetime. Our program provides guidance and support to help them achieve the goals that best fit their future. Too many of our youth fall short due to a lack of support and encouragement.” To complete the experience, the program includes virtual college tours, visits from guest speakers in the STEM industry, and a company tour in the STEM industry.
Another great program for students was started in 2018 by LaQuinn Thompson. After witnessing young students getting caught up in street violence, LaQuinn came up with the idea for a game night to offer young boys something positive, productive, and fun. It was such a success that LaQuinn knew he needed to find a way to make it a regular event. After noticing the trend in eSports, LaQuinn organized a youth league and began hosting tournaments. He received grants from YCCF’s Fund for York County and the Fred Dallmeyer Fund to support his BEAST Initiative. We are proud to support programs like the BEAST Initiative and The GEAR Project, both led by members of the community who are invested in the youth. YCCF is moving York County forward in education and workforce development. By offering valuable 21st-century life skills and increasing job opportunities, as well as positive social events that encourage team building, York City’s youth will be well-prepared for life and work – the key to their future and the future of our community.