Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia Using Technology to Help Kids Realize Their Potential

When 8-year-old Deon was first invited to use a new computer at the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club, he was reluctant. His passion was art, and he didn’t think using a computer would be helpful. But when he discovered that the computer lessons meant learning a visual arts module that would help him with his art, everything changed.

Deon used the program to immerse himself in subjects related to color creation and art history. He learned about the science and history behind the colors and was inspired by lessons about famous artists and styles from traditions around the world. Deon honed his technology skills while nurturing his personal passion.

Common Values, Complementary Missions

Deon’s newfound skills came thanks to a longstanding partnership between the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia and Comcast – a partnership built on common values. As close partners with complementary goals, Comcast and Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia share a common commitment to Philadelphia’s future, with missions that fit together.

Comcast technology connects people to moments and experiences that matter most. Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia enable young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. With technological shifts in education and the workforce, Comcast and Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia have worked closely together to help kids grow for years.

In connecting kids to technology through My.Future, which Deon used to improve his art skills, and Internet Essentials, which helps connect families to the internet, Comcast and Boys and Girls Clubs are better positioning Philadelphia’s children to reach their full potential.

A Passion for Youth Development

Youth development lies at the heart of Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia’s work. “We’re not just a drop-in center or a place where kids play sports,” says Lisabeth Marziello, who, alongside her husband Joe, is Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia Co-President/CEO. “Everything that Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia does has a youth development strategy to build and develop kids into strong citizens and leaders of our city, state and nation.”

Leading the organization is personal for the pair. “It all started because Joe was a Boys and Girls Clubs member and it changed his life,” says Marziello. “From there it became our passion to devote our careers to serving Boys and Girls Clubs across the country.”

When the couple arrived in Philadelphia to lead the organization, they saw an opportunity to improve club facilities. This meant giving children the best technological resources available. Comcast enthusiastically supported the effort, helping to build and refurbish computer labs and provide funding to support technology-based programs.

My.Future – Fusing Technology Learning with Passions

Comcast developed My.Future to expand digital literacy by allowing kids to explore their passions. The digital platform uses modules on wide-ranging subjects including graphic design, music editing, robotics, coding and more. Offering multiple topics allows children to master technology while deepening their knowledge in areas of personal interest.

The Marziellos saw a clear benefit for children at their club locations. “When our kids connect to the internet and to computers, they’re not just connecting to school, they’re also connecting to the world,” Marziello says. “This creates a long-term benefit as kids grow, finding their place in the community and ways to relate to others. Deon’s experience is a perfect example of what My.Future does for our kids.”

Lift Zones – Creating Safe Spaces for Kids to Connect

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast launched robust Wi-Fi connected Lift Zones – spaces for individuals to connect to the internet  for free and gain access to hundreds of hours of educational and digital skills resources. Philadelphia Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia were quickly set up to be Lift Zone locations so kids could connect to the internet, complete schoolwork and gain skills they needed to thrive.

“I think our kids got hit the hardest by the pandemic,” says Marziello. “Comcast saw that and strengthened the tools they provide to our students to help.”

“Through this difficult time, Comcast showed our kids that there were people who cared, people who have the courage to stand for what’s right and help where needed,” Marziello says. “They showed our children the core of human dignity, respect and love. During our country’s most difficult hour, Comcast came in as a hero and champion for our kids.”

A Look Ahead

As children regain some sense of normalcy with the resumption of in-person learning, Marziello envisions building upon the technology resources that Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia offers kids.

“We’re looking forward to having all of our clubs be Lift Zones so our kids can connect with more activities and organizations throughout the city,” says Marziello. “In addition to what we’ve already achieved, I expect to see more advanced technology opportunities for our kids to grow and expand.”

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